Colin Calderwood does not seem the sort to be gleeful, but he surely must have been smiling on the inside as his Hibernian squad headed down the A9 after this victory.
Much has been made of the possibility, some might say probability, that the Easter Road manager’s future lies as Chris Hughton’s assistant at Birmingham City, though it is difficult to believe that the Hibs board would sanction the signing of players while suspecting their coach was ready to quit.
As Calderwood checked his watch and awaited the final whistle, Jonny Hayes, the energetic Inverness Caledonian Thistle winger, was busy losing the ball on the perimeter of his own penalty area, allowing Ian Murray, the Hibs captain, to collect and offer Garry O’Connor one more shot at goal.
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Only around 10 seconds remained of stoppage time and when the ball hit the back of the net the points were secured. “It’s horrible to be in the situation our opponents found themselves in, losing a goal that way when there’s no coming back,” Murray conceded as he sympathised with the home side. “Our fans travelled a long way and, hopefully, that win has lifted a bit of negativity around the place.”
Ah yes, the Calderwood issue again. At least the Hibs manager’s comments, as he admitted how fortunate his team was to take the points – they were outplayed for the entire second half – indicated his future lies in Leith, for now at least. “Sometimes it’s easier to learn in defeat, but we have to learn from victory against Inverness,” he said.
He will certainly learn his squad cannot afford such long and potentially damaging lapses in concentration as they showed on Saturday.
Terry Butcher, the Inverness manager, was pleased with his side’s performance, particularly from signings such as Greg Tansey, a capable midfielder who fired a late strike against the post, and Owain Tudor Jones, an imposing figure alongside him.
The Welsh internationalist, deemed surplus to requirements by Paul Lambert at Norwich City, admitted his lack of pre-season preparation left him exhausted. “I tired a bit towards the end,” he said. “I was thinking that if the game finished 0-0 it would be a bit of a travesty. For them to nick it feels like daylight robbery. In defence, we have to be ruthless in shutting up shop and ensuring that 0-0 is the worst-case scenario.”
Jones is keen to establish himself as a key player for Butcher and, while he feels regret at having to leave Norwich, he believes Lambert is destined for great things south of the border.
“I see him becoming a big name in England,” he said. “He’s walking on water at Norwich at the moment. It will be different in the Premiership, but as a man and as a manager he is very impressive.”