Hibernian chairman backs under-fire Fenlon
Poor start to the season has included record defeat in Europe
Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon. Photograph: Kirk O’Rourke/PA
The Easter Road chief met with a supporters group last night in a bid to quell their fury following the Edinburgh club’s terrible start to the season.
Hibs suffered Scotland’s worst ever European result when they were thumped 9-0 in the Europa League qualifiers by Malmo.
Fenlon’s side then compounded that humiliation by losing to city rivals Hearts as they opened the season with four straight defeats.
Only Scott Robertson’s late equaliser against Dundee United on Saturday stopped their wretched run from growing even worse.
Fenlon has faced growing anger from supporters but Petrie, despite admitting to being embarrassed by the horror show against the Swedes, has given the Irishman his backing.
In a statement released through the club’s official website, a spokesman said: “Hibernian chairman Rod Petrie met with supporters this evening. The meeting was arranged to allow supporters from throughout the Hibernian community to speak directly with the club about any issues.
“The meeting was challenging, but held in a spirit of respect and courtesy. Hibernian supporters are passionate about their team and their club. They want only the best for Hibernian. That passion is shared by the Board and everyone at the club.
“Supporters were understandably critical of performances and results, particularly against Malmo at home and at Tynecastle in the Edinburgh derby. Strong words were used, reflecting the passion of supporters and their deep disappointment.
“The second-leg tie against Malmo in the Europa League was a nightmare. The manager and players apologised for that after the match. Some supporters felt that was not enough and that more should have been said by the club.
“No-one took any pleasure from the match and everyone shared the embarrassment of our worst ever result in Europe. The chairman acknowledged the depth of feeling as something he shared. The factors faced by the club in the lead up to the tie were not offered as any excuse. The club could only apologise once more.
“The group agreed the manager has assembled a talented group of players this season. However, the quality of performances in the new SPFL have been questioned by supporters, exacerbated by two 1-0 defeats. However, there was also recognition that the quality of the squad should be capable of better.
“The chairman said the Board and the club are keen to give the players and the manager every opportunity to deliver improved performances and through that, win matches.
“He told the meeting that we need to get better. We need to inspire supporters. We need to recapture the enthusiasm that brought 16,000 supporters to Easter Road Stadium for the match against Malmo despite being 2-0 down from the first leg. The players and the manager and the coaching staff need our support and encouragement to strive for that.”