It all started so well for Paul Heckingbottom at Hibs.
After his appointment in February they went ten games unbeaten and with a few weeks of the season remaining, they were pushing for a European place.
But then they fell away in the final two games, the summer saw a huge squad overhaul and now they sit second-bottom of the Premiership and speculation is rife that Heckingbottom could be on his way out.
Not the best time to be playing Celtic, then. On the Totally Scottish Football Show this week, our panel took a lot at where it’s gone wrong for Heckingbottom at Easter Road.
“It’s looks quite bleak for him,” said Harry Slavin. “When you lose 12 first-team players, it’s near enough impossible to then expect [the replacements] to click straight away, and we’re still only in September.
“There is so much negativity around him. I was following the penalty shoot-out [against Kilmarnock in the League Cup] on Twitter, and when Ollie Shaw missed the first comment was ‘Good. Heckingbottom out.’ That’s what you’re up against: you’ve got your own fans wanting to get knocked out of cups, because of the feeling against Heckingbottom. When you don’t have the fans onside, that’s when it becomes very difficult.”
Part of the problem seems to be with Heckingbottom himself, and how he reacts to defeats in public.
“When he came in he said there was no psychology department at the club,” said Andrew Slaven, “and that was something he wanted to bring in. But then you see him in post-match interviews and he slates his team – how do you as a player receive that sort of information and try and do better? Surely behind the scenes he’s trying to get these players to react to his message.”
JJ Bull continued: “A negative coach breeds negativity. You’re taught in the most basic coaching course I did, that if you’re positive and reward positivity, you get the right response. But if you start acting in negative ways, that’s the sort of response you get from the players.
“Maybe if he’s not getting a response by encouraging them, laying down the law is how he might do it.”
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