By the time he came into the Fir Park media room minutes later it was as if butter would not melt in his mouth. "I think the boy was congratulating us on a hard earned three points," said McCall, tongue in cheek. "I can't remember."
Five nights ago he sat in the same chair with his face tripping him after going out of the Scottish League Cup to Aberdeen. Beating Hibs had a restorative effect. Motherwell have now won five consecutive home games in the SPFL Premiership and are up to joint second in the table. No wonder the manager could make light of falling out with a mouthy fan.
Only between the 15th and 45th minutes did Motherwell play well, but that period yielded the only goal of the day from Stephen McManus. They had enough about them to see it out, just, even when Shaun Hutchinson was shown a straight red card four minutes from time for denying Paul Heffernan a clear goalscoring opportunity just outside the box. A clean sheet was recorded even though their back four took a bit of a battering: Hutchinson will now be suspended, Simon Ramsden is out for at least a month with a pulled hamstring and Steven Hammell needed six stitches on a horrible gash on his ankle after a late tackle by Tom Taiwo, who came to see him after the game to check he was okay.
"We were hanging on at the end, there's no doubt about that," said McCall. "It was a gutsy display. It was a deserved three points if you look at the chances over the piece and it is a massive relief. Today was all about the result and when we had to dig in, we did that."
At first the teams might not have known whether to play each other or exchange comforting hugs. Both suffered traumatic results last midweek. McCall said being bundled out of the cup at home to a 10-man Aberdeen left him feeling as low as he had ever been in management. Hibs' exit to Hearts had far graver consequences for Pat Fenlon. The despondency was natural but neither side was in any trouble: Motherwell are joint second and even Hibs would have been in the top six had they won.
Still, the visitors played like a team lacking confidence and ideas. James Collins and Rowan Vine were on the bench - captain James McPake was suspended - but the bounce that a team often gets when a manager leaves was missing. Heffernan was too often on his own with Liam Craig offering too little to help. They were flat and unimaginative. It was entirely out of character with the rest of their performance when Scott Robertson went on a lovely dribbling run from midfield which ended with a shot blocked by Fraser Kerr.
There was a much better balance about the Motherwell team, and higher quality too. Lionel Ainsworth gave them zip and pace on the right and whipped over some threatening crosses. James McFadden, having been out with a hamstring problem since September, started and was hungry and bright on the left before inevitably tiring. One of Ainsworth's deliveries was cleared for the corner which gave Motherwell the winner. Ainsworth himself took the corner to the near post where nothing - certainly not Ryan McGivern - was going to stop McManus powering home his first Motherwell goal. Anier almost doubled the lead when he lashed a shot which spun off Ben Williams's hand and flashed past the far post without the Hibs goalkeeper knowing very much about it.
At least there were some signs of defiance and life from Hibs in the second half, but nothing that amounted to very much. Robertson and Craig had efforts and then there was a free-kick in the dying minutes, right on the white line of the penalty area when Hutchinson was sent off for hauling down Heffernan. Vine smashed the kick hopelessly into the wall. When the same player teed up Collins, who had just come off the bench, he screwed a hopeless finish wide. Heffernan's very late shot was far more impressive but was matched by goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen's terrific save.
The loss of Hutchinson caused Motherwell to unravel, but the clock eventually saved them. Hibs piled on desperately, although not even five minutes of stoppage time turned out to be enough. "The first half was strange," said Nicholl. "It was quiet, there was no atmosphere. Motherwell scored, there was a wee lapse of concentration.
"The same as Wednesday night: what a difference a goal makes to games and situations and people's personal lives. If we had converted our chances against Hearts circumstances might have been different at the club. It was the same today."