It’s that time of the year, where you go out to your holiday destinations and the kids are in the house on their summer break. For Scottish football fans though, the middle of July signifies the start of a new SPFL season these days.
There’s optimism around every club to some extent at this time of year. None more so than Hibs, who in the wake of Ron Gordon’s takeover, have been galvanised by a wave of optimism.
The exciting unknown is what awaits Hibs this forthcoming season. They are equipped with a quintet of signings from the EFL who have zero SPFL experience, whilst also coping with the loss of influential players like Marvin Bartley and Stephane Omeonga at the same time.
New season, new Hibs
This is no longer ‘Neil Lennon’s Hibs’, after two transfer windows by the end of the summer, this is very much Hibs created in Paul Heckingbottom’s image.
They look different to what they did in May. 13 senior players departed the club at the end of last season with six coming in. Scott Allan, Christian Doidge, Tom James, Adam Jackson, Chris Maxwell and Joe Newell are the new Hibees in town.
Ryan Porteous and Martin Boyle will be like new signings for Heckingbottom when they return to competitive action. If they add a couple of defensive midfielders, the Hibees will have a completed squad.
Heckingbottom has experimented with formations this pre-season too, so you’re likely to see something different to the one striker formation Hibs played frequently throughout 2018/19. 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 have all been tested so far.
A platform for success
Hibs are in a better place than they were this time last summer. Doubts were creeping in about how much further Lennon could carry the Leith side and they were having to cope with the loss of Allan and Dylan McGeouch, whilst also knowing John McGinn’s exit was nearing.
The nervousness of last season has been replaced by optimism and hopefulness of great things under Gordon. With Hecky at the wheel, there’s a real sense around Easter Road that great things are just around the corner.
Leith’s finest now have the infrastructure and financial support to go and become the best team outwith Celtic and Rangers.
The training centre, a redeveloped Easter Road and plenty of youngsters coming through the ranks into the senior side. There’s plenty of things to smile about right now from a Hibs perspective.
Hibs have a favorable start to the 2019/20 campaign
Four part-time teams, Alloa, Stirling Albion, Elgin City and Arbroath make up Hibs’ Betfred Cup group. They couldn’t ask for a better start to the 2019/20 season.
This seems like the perfect chance for Hibs to get the juices flowing ahead of the Premiership season. They should be aiming for four very comfortable victories.
It should give the boys from England a gentle introduction to the demands of Scottish football. They face a demanding first five league games after this easy start, with away trips to Rangers, Motherwell and Kilmarnock all included.
For anyone associated with the Hibees, this is a season of promise, a season to dream. If great league success is to come, or a brilliant cup run, you get the feeling this has to be the year for it.
Heckingbottom and his Hibs squad have a real chance to write themselves into the Easter Road history books this season.