Macey admits Hibs have little room for error in bid for Europe under Maloney

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Macey admits Hibs have little room for error in bid for Europe under Maloney
Macey admits Hibs have little room for error in bid for Europe under Maloney

MATT Macey has confessed Hibernian have little room for error as they try to implement Shaun Maloney’s new style at the same time as trying to clinch a return to Europe.

The Easter Road side sit fifth in the table, nine points adrift of rivals Hearts in third, and have been defeated just once - away to Celtic - in the five games since Maloney succeeded Jack Ross in late December.

However, despite Maloney expressing satisfaction with his team’s performances, there have been misgivings expressed by supporters after the Leith outfit failed to register a single shot on target in their last two Premiership matches, against Celtic and Motherwell. The latter on Wednesday night concluded with their opponents down to 10 men, whilst they also required extra-time to see off League One Cove Rangers in the Scottish Cup.

Macey, who as goalkeeper is expected to spark Hibs’ new possession-based game-plan from deep, admits it has not been easy changing course midway through the campaign and with points vital in reaching the club's stated targets. But the former Arsenal player hopes the pressure can bring out the best in a squad that has also been overhauled this month.

“For me, it has been different. It has been different for everyone,” he said ahead of the visit of Livingston. “It’s been different in the way we do things; goal kicks, when I have the ball in my hands, how we’re trying to build the game from deep. But I am enjoying the challenge, like everyone.

“If a manager comes in over the summer, you have six or seven weeks of pre-season to work on your style and you can use games to try new things. We’re in a situation where we are playing catch-up with the teams above us and we need to balance that with results.

“So, it’s hugely challenging for everyone. But it forces you to pick things up quickly, there is no time to dwell. So, in a way, it can work in a really positive way if we approach it the right way.”

The focus of most has been on their deficiencies in attack, particularly following the big-money sale of Martin Boyle to Al-Faisaly, but Macey has been heartened by Hibs' defensive solidity under Maloney. In the five games so far, the 27-year-old has earned three clean sheets, despite the absences of Ryan Porteous and Paul McGinn through suspension and Paul Hanlon with an injury.

“Everyone is aware of the goals-scored situation,” he added. “But I think it’s important when the team is going through some big changes midway through the season that we give ourselves a base. It’s no good us going and playing attacking football at this stage and being 1-0 or 2-0 down and chasing games.

“So it’s important we have that structure there to go and attack from. We have done that and now we can look forward to the next part kicking in.”

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