Hughes looking to wise old heads

02 January 2010 01:11
Defenders Ian Murray and Chris Hogg and striker Derek Riordan have seen it all before when it comes to derby day in the SPL.

The same can be said for Hearts captain Michael Stewart, who has played for both Edinburgh sides.

But Hibs boss Hughes hopes his team's numerical advantage in the experience stakes proves decisive tomorrow.

"Experience is invaluable in any walk of life, especially when you go into the derby match," he said.

"It's nice to have it: been there, done it, got the t-shirt - all that stuff.

"I'm quite sure that, come Sunday, no matter if you're a young boy, old boy, experienced, that has to inspire you.

"It cannot faze you, you cannot be overawed by it.

"We have to keep all our emotions in check and go and play the game on the back of those building blocks.

"And if you do that, the game - nine times out of 10 - takes care of itself."

The match will be Hughes' second derby at the helm following November's goalless draw at Tynecastle.

Having had a reputation for whipping himself up into a frenzy over the fixture while a player at Easter Road, Hughes has made an effort to employ a more thoughtful approach when it comes to management.

"You have to have your game head on, me as a manager tactically have my game head on, know what's coming, looking for any changes that can help your team," he said.

"And, as a player, you have to go in there, be disciplined.

"The easy thing to do is run about and kick people.

"The hardest thing to do is go and get on the ball and dictate the play and that's what I'll be saying to my players.

"'Keep your discipline, pass the ball, play our style of play and see if we can take the game to them'.

"And, if that's the case then hopefully that'll be enough for us to win."

After a wretched start to the season, Hearts will arrive at Easter Road on the back of a hat-trick of wins, while third-placed Hibs' 12-match unbeaten run in the SPL was torpedoed by rampant Rangers last Sunday.

That result was a reality check to those who thought Hughes' men could mount a serious title charge this season.

"Expectation's a very, very dangerous thing," the Hibs boss said.

"Being the manager of Hibs, you want to be right up in the top half of the league, third and fourth.

"You're looking to challenge the Old Firm as much as you can, you're always look to get into the latter stages of cup competitions, and that's what I'm trying to bring to Easter Road."

Midfielder Liam Miller insists Hibs' players never got carried away with their start to the season but he still reckons splitting the Old Firm is not out of the question.

"I've always thought we'd take it one game at a time and look to build on that and see where it will take us," he said.

"We've done well up to now and if we can build on that for the second half of the season, we won't be too far away."

Source: Team_Talk