Where Malmo mauling leaves Hibs and Pat Fenlon

Written by Lewis Barnes.

THERE was an air of positivity around Easter Road on Thursday night.  A return to European football, memories of AEK Athens, new signings on show and of course a bumper crowd of over 16 000 to pay tribute to the great, late Lawrie Reilly, the greatest Hibee that ever lived. 
Hibs faced an uphill task but the tie was still just in the balance.  The atmosphere was electric.  The scene was set for a great night. 
And then the game started.

Make no mistake, Malmo are a good side. Their passing and movement was far beyond anything I have witnessed at Easter Road in recent times and in the aftermath of this result their manager suggested that even he was stunned by the quality of the Swedish performance and the margin of victory. 
However this cannot disguise the embarrassment felt.  Malmo are no powerhouse of European football and yet Thursday’s 9-0 aggregate score is the worst result ever by a Scottish club in Europe.  Coupled with the 5-1 Scottish cup defeat a couple of years ago Fenlon has now presided over two of the worst results in Hibernian’s history.  Questions have to be asked.

When Fenlon took over some 20 months ago Hibs were in crisis.  It is hard to argue things are any better now.  His achievements include keeping Hibs in the SPL twice and getting to two successive Scottish Cup finals where we were easily beaten in both.  For Hibs this should not count as achievements. 
The mess his predecessor Colin Calderwood left Hibs in meant that Fenlon was always going to be given time.  We were told he needed this to get his own players in and put his imprint on the team.  Against Malmo five of the starting eleven were signed by the Irishman, another five came through the Easter Road youth team and Kevin Thomson falls into both categories.  The bench was split entirely into the same two categories. Only Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson remained from Calderwood’s last game in charge.  There can be no argument that this is Fenlon’s team.

His tactics and gameplan are also questionable.  Or more importantly lack of them. Under Fenlon Hibs seem to play a negative, slow plodding football totally devoid of any pace, movement or shape.  Players seem scared of the ball and of demonstrating any creativity and are often used out of position.  Without Leigh Griffiths to create something out of nothing our prospects look bleak.

However, the buck cannot rest solely at the manager’s door.  There has long been something soft and rotten at the core of Hibernian football club.  Fingers have to be pointed at those who appointed him.
The list of failed managerial appointments at Easter road is startling.  Since Rod Petrie was appointed Hibs chairmen in December 2004 Tony Mowbray, John Collins, Mixu Paatelainen, Colin Calderwood and now Fenlon have inhabited the Easter Road hot seat.  Only Mowbray could be classed as a success.
The compensation fees spent on removing sacked managers is staggering, especially when Petrie turned down a fee for Birmingham City for Calderwood. 
Our chairman is a talented business man.  Under his stewardship Hibs have rode out a financial storm in Scottish football which has helped throw other clubs into the abyss, managing to built a state of the art training facility and improve Easter Road stadium along the way. 
However, fans do not pay to watch balance sheets in nice facilities.  The on pitch product is of paramount importance and Hibs have failed in this respect for far too long. 
Clubs like St Johnstone and Motherwell with a far smaller fan base, stadium and budget are streets ahead of Hibs in footballing terms.  In the absence of Rangers and demise of Hearts, Hibernian should be competing to become the established second force in Scottish football.  Our on field form at the moment suggests we will be competing for a top six place at best.  A fourth successive season in the bottom six is totally unacceptable.

Petrie’s business acumen is vital to the backroom running of Hibernian football club.  However his football knowledge is questionable and his record at appointing managers is lamentable.  His departure from the Easter road board could see Hibs slip into the same precarious financial as other clubs and his negotiation skills have seen Hibernian benefit from numerous transfer fees. 
Petrie needs someone with football knowledge to sit beside him on the board and advise on managerial appointments, preferably someone with Hibernian in their heart.  Pat Stanton would be perfect. 
However, any appointment would have to be sanctioned by Petrie and it remains to be seen whether a notoriously proud man would admit to his shortcomings and seek help.  If he doesn’t, can he afford another poor managerial appointment? 
Thursday night was a real chance to attract wavering fans back to Easter road.  That chance has now been blown. 
I like Fenlon, I hope he succeeds and I understand that all managers need time.  However, the Malmo mauling means that he is now on borrowed time in the poisoned chalice that is the Easter Road manager’s job.

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+2 # Concerned Hibs Fan 2013-07-28 18:58
Fenlon is clueless. Whether there is problems higher up the chain or not. I can't believe he has not resigned. I have no respect for the man now as a manager or as person. He has far more money than any other manager in the SPL outside Aberdeen/Celtic. Malmo are not that good. The hibs fans calling Malmo a good team have little knowledge of football. Motherwell and Dundee United both have a higher uefa ranking than Malmo.

Go now Fenlon the fans will be heard against motherwell if he is still in charge.

The players also did not try a leg after Malmo scored there first a sure sign of their character but also there respect for Fenlon.
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+1 # Lewis Barnes 2013-07-28 20:23
Have backed Fenlon but can do so no longer. As mentioned in the article I feel his tactics non existent and the football is turgid. However he has joined a long list of managers in this respect.
I disagree with your comments about malmo. On Thursday they were a very good side, far better than any spl team that has come to Easter road in recent times. No excuse for that result though
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+2 # Concerned Hibs Fan 2013-07-28 21:24
Quoting Lewis Barnes:
Have backed Fenlon but can do so no longer. As mentioned in the article I feel his tactics non existent and the football is turgid. However he has joined a long list of managers in this respect.
I disagree with your comments about malmo. On Thursday they were a very good side, far better than any spl team that has come to Easter road in recent times. No excuse for that result though

I guess the main point is Fenlon has to go. Malmo looked good against us. However they are no better than say Motherwell were last season. Certainly they could not be compare at all to the resources of a club like Celtic.

People seem to be using Malmo being such a great team as an argument for Fenlon to stay.

The players were not trying. As painful as it may be please watch the highlights and see the midfield jogging about not giving a crap.

This has turned into a debate on hibs as a whole. First things first sack/resign Fenlon. I am disgusted that this has not happened yet. It shows just how far our standards have slipped.
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+1 # Lewis Barnes 2013-07-28 22:05
Totally mate. I have backed Fenlon mainly because changing managers so often has done us no good but can do so no longer. He is out of his depth and I completely agree he needs to go. With the current state of scottish football we should be establishing ourselves near the top not scraping around the bottom. Big couple of weeks ahead
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0 # Malmö fan 2014-04-12 12:38
We had a good season 2013 and became Swedish champions. Very much tnank's to coach Rickard Norling who did a great job. Our fans did at least behave in Scotland. That's nothing we can say about our archrivals Helsingborgs IF. Their fans did provoke a fight with suporter police inside Celtic Park. Shame to the bastards of HIF, or as I call them HIV :-), for bringing shame to swedish supporters. It was in this season opening between Helsingborg and Djurgårdens IF, in fucking Helsingborg, a DIF-fan, father of four and just an ordinary supporter by an unlucky chain of coincidences were killed on his way to the game. Take a peak at theese links.
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0 # Perth Hibee 2013-07-29 15:22
There is no doubt that under Tom Farmer's stewardship we cleared a debt mountain and built good infrastructure. From there it's up to the people who run the club to build a strong performance culture, vision and winning mentality. The coach then fits the club, not vice versa.

Benchmarking against your rivals is the best way to judge how well our club is run. Look at other clubs in our league, evaluate how they are performing over recent seasons, identify what they do better and aspire to equal or better their model.

Company performance starts with a talented entrepreneur as chairman or ceo. Businesses are best run by individuals with a tough personality, who set high standards and have a strong track record in running a successful business. At St Johnstone Geoff Brown has a fantastic track record in business and has lifted St J's from the lower leagues to Europe. At Ross County Roy McGregor runs a £300 million pound energy business and the Staggies have come up from the Highland Leagues to the top 4 of the SPL.

Motherwell recruited Leann Dempster, an expert in business restructure who has improved Well on and off the park, aiming to create a sustainable business model through community ownership. Kenny Cameron at Inverness Caley has a strong track record in building businesses in the field of entertainment and this year ICT were up there at the top of the league for most of the campaign.

Stewart Gilmour's St Mirren have struggled a bit but are still looking to a more long-term business model. He's done well with very limited resources winning the League Cup recently


These SPL rivals don't have fancy players or the wonderful facilities that Tom Farmer has given Hibs. They do though have a strong bond with their managers and their players. Their businesses are well led by successful individuals for whom hard work, 110% application and a winning mentality mean everything in their business lives and at their football club. Until we have that type of individual, vision and culture here at Hibs, Hibernian FC as a business will continue to underachieve

Business is not about having the tools, it's what you do with the tools that matters
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0 # eighteen75 2013-07-29 15:56
Fenlons appointment doesnt lie at the feet of Petrie...need to look elsewhere on that front. You will find the two gents are no longer at the club.
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