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Incompetent and insolent - time for Mixu to do the decent thing

Written by Richey White
Monday, 12 January 2009
Image Another Scottish Cup venture, another disappointment. If previous failures only served to add to the agony of another year to the hoodoo, then Sunday's tame capitulation could have far more lasting consequences for Mixu Paatelainen as Richey discovers...

Different sponsor, same sorry outcome. The Scottish Cup in its Tennents' guise may have painfully eluded Hibs time and time again, and its modern day equivalent has proved to have been similarly spurned. No Homecoming Cup come May then, and only some brutal home truths to mull over as a season falls apart at the seams.

To be honest, being paired with Hearts was the last thing Mixu Paatelainen needed. It gave him two make or break games in the space of a week during a period where his side look anything but the epitome of consistent and talented. Very few would have gone into either game with a degree of assured confidence that indicated Hibs would triumph - a return of no goals, minimal chances and a support that is on the verge of complete disinterest would indicate such pessimism had merit.

In the despondent aftermath of a quite terrible week, the above is a sign of just what a seemingly irreversible slide this current Hibs side are on. Who could honestly envisage a performance that will take care of St. Mirren? When was the last time anyone could genuinely feel positive about the prospect of an encouraging performance and result? Week after week of disappointment, followed by week after week of quite rage-provokingly awful analysis from the increasingly beleaguered Finn. We all know the standard criticism’s of Hibs startling inability to pass the ball now, but when has this team ever passed the ball the way Paatelainen seems to think should be the norm? One 4-1 victory at Motherwell in front of 1,000 odd Hibs fans, who probably can’t quite believe such an event took place given current form, doesn’t convince anyone who’s attended the most depressing home form for many a year that Hibs can actually play in a composed and attractive manner.

Which leads us to point number two – it’s bad enough being confronted by the reality of a quite shocking side but even more nauseating is the continued stubbornness and lack of professionalism shown by its leader. The last manager to come out publicly with such universally loathed comments was one Bobby Williamson, whose best (or worst) sound bites are still mocked to this day. Paatelainen has by this stage maybe even surpassed Williamson in terms of the sheer number of disagreeable outbursts. Referee rants, laughable and embarrassing tantrums and most worryingly the ability apportion blame to everyone but the real reason for the continued underachievement. In the wake of Sunday’s trauma, a disillusioned support was crying out for a bit of honesty and appeasement. Instead, they were faced with comments that even amateur managers would neglect to make.

Not one Hibs fan could pose any sort of credible argument that their side had performed well, certainly as not as well as Paatelainen seems to think, before or after Steven Fletcher’s red card. They were comfortable beforehand perhaps, not impressive by any stretch of the imagination, while Hearts looked frankly awful and the one piece of incisive and inventive play mustered by either shockingly enough created the only chance of the first half hour. From the minute the sides became uneven the game was dead and Hibs offered not even a half chance, a distressing statistic given Kilmarnock had given them a master class in how to prosper minus a player.

For someone like Jim Jefferies, indeed for most managers, such a scenario would be a cue for a standard defensive display especially when so close to half time. It wouldn’t usually be a cue to move a midfielder up front and leave your side two men light in the middle of the park, but we should be learning to expect those sort of decisions from Paatelainen by now - a man so determined to adher to his attacking principles yet so naive and idiotic in how he does it. An hour or so later, Hibs had been dumped out by their bitterest of rivals with only a Derek Riordan gesture in defiance with a performance that only served to embody everything incompetent we’ve come to anticipate from the team these days, and had some right to expect an inquest into or an apology for such insipidness. Instead? Ramblings of brown trouts and hideously blinkered game anecdotes. Nothing to give any solace to a downbeat support, no attempts at culpability, just attempts to pinpoint everyone but his own failings.

The point? There’s no use in continuing to pinpoint footballing deficiencies within Hibs at the moment, they’ve all been done to death. Everyone is fully aware that Alan O’Brien hasn’t got it, that David van Zanten makes you long for Steven Whittaker, that Riordan and Fletcher are going backwards due to the dross Hibs are producing and that it’s frightening how far Hibs have disintegrated from a fine footballing side into an unforgivably bad one. There is a more growing realisation that in addition to the fact that Mixu Paatelainen should not be Hibs manager anymore, it is increasingly obvious that his lack of managerial qualities are being compounded by the fact his character and actions are now coming under serious attack. Much like Franck Sauzee, he took the job as a legend and is having his legacy diminished in a terribly sad way. While Sauzee maintained a level of respect and worship that never faltered due to dignified and gracious manner, Paatelainen is gaining more of a reputation along the lines of Sauzee’s infamously unpopular successor – namely rude, stubborn and increasingly dislikeable. In a footballing light he is clearly not up to the job, a sad but forgivable fact; but when his every word creates such disdain and cringing amongst his own support then it’s time to move on both for the sake of the club he loves and for himself.

Taken from

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