Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Half-term report card, Hibs: One Heck of a turnaround at Easter Road as Jack gets to work

© Ross Parker / SNS GroupJack Ross with Scott Allan
Jack Ross with Scott Allan

It looked like Hibs’ season was dying on the vine under Paul Heckingbottom.

But Jack Ross’ arrival has seen green shoots of hope emerge at Easter Road.

It’s not that things have been as uniformly positive under Ross as they were relentlessly frustrating in the latter days of Heckingbottom’s reign.

It’s more that when things have gone well under the new man, Hibs have looked very, very good.

By contrast, when “Hecky” was at the wheel this season, they looked painfully soft from front to back.

That’s a huge part of the reason the Hibs hierarchy swing the axe in early November, with the club languishing in 10th place.

They had taken just nine points from the first available 33 of the campaign, and crashed out of the Betfred Cup after a 5-2 defeat to Celtic.

Heckingbottom’s summer signings – with the exception of Scott Allan, who signed a pre-contract agreement while Neil Lennon was still in charge at Easter Road – looked questionable at best.

Established stars like Florian Kamberi and Stevie Mallan were misfiring, while defensive stalwart Paul Hanlon, without a regular partner, was wobbling badly.

With confidence low, gushing early talk from players of Heckingbottom’s impressive attention to detail began to lose its sparkle, leaving only questions about what had happened between his initial red-hot run as gaffer and its ultimately terminal decline.

Enter Jack Ross – and finally the suggestion of some answers for concerned Hibs fans.

They weren’t offered in the media, through soundbites and polished PR presentation, though Ross is certainly impressive on that front.

Instead, his Hibs side started to do their talking on the pitch beginning, to be fair, even before he arrived when caretaker Eddie May led them to a resounding and deserved 4-1 win over St Johnstone.

Wins over Motherwell, St Mirren, Aberdeen and Hearts have followed, showcasing a side finding new life as a free-flowing, attacking machine.

Building on Ross’ early work while nurturing their new identity will be the priority going forward.

 

STAR MAN

Scott Allan has been surpassed in recent weeks on the headline-grabbing front by Martin Boyle, but Allan remains the beating heart of Hibs.

His range of passing has never been in doubt, but he has employed it as effectively in the first half of this season as he ever has.

Fans of other clubs – one in particular (Rangers) – have taken a cynical line on the Hibs man’s contribution, provoked by what they see as simpering coverage.

© Paul Devlin / SNS Group
Scott Allan has been a returning hero for Hibs

But there is no smoke without fire, and Allan has been in red-hot form this season, even when Hibs have not.

His importance to the Hibees is emphasised by the statistics. With seven goals and six assists to his name, he has done more than most to keep heads held high around Easter Road.

Times were tough under Heckingbottom, but Allan kept plugging away.

Under Jack Ross, he will be determined to shine.

 

PROSPECTS

Hibees fans had high expectations at the start of the season, but they were quickly tempered.

As a club, Hibs want to be focused on catching teams above them. But for a time under Paul Heckingbottom, fearful glances were beginning to be cast downwards.

In acting quickly to stop the rot, the Hibs board gained a progressive young manager in Jack Ross – and progress is what the club demands going forward.

Between now and the rest of the season, that means a comfortable top-six finish, and preferably a serious tilt at a European place.

Such is the talent in the Easter Road dressing room, that is an entirely legitimate aim, as is a crack at the Scottish Cup.

Jack Ross won’t feel obliged to make too many changes to his squad this month, though two or three hand-picked additions would help.

A defensively-minded midfielder will be top of the Hibs gaffer’s shopping list.

If he gets his man, the only way will be up.