Can Hibs Improve On Last Season
Things could not get much worse for the Edinburgh side. Goalkeeper Mark Brown cannot wait for the new SPL season to begin as Hibs start the 2011-12 campaign against SPL runners-up Celtic on Sunday 24 July. Hibs finished 10th last time out after a disappointing season with very few highlights to celebrate. Brown wants to ensure the expected bumper crowd are entertained and the Hibs version of the green and white fans will be celebrating at the end of the day. Celtic won 3-0 at Hibs in January, although Brown and his team mates have been working hard on the training ground and are confident ahead of the game. Brown said: "The season's going to be good. There's no better game to start with than Celtic at home. It's a tough one. Celtic will have vast support, I'd imagine. There's no better game to start the season off than Celtic. We just can't wait until the football starts. The hard work we've been doing, now we can put into the results." Brown hopes that Hibs can mount a serious challenge following Hearts lead last season. While clubs out with the Old Firm do not have the resources of the Glasgow clubs, it is possible to give them a fright now and then. The Jambos ruffled Gers' feathers last year by toppling them at Tynecastle to briefly make it a three-horse race before Jim Jefferies' side ultimately fell out of contention. Brown went on: "It's going to be difficult, as it is every year. Hearts put up a decent showing last year, but fell away at the end. They've got the most money and biggest squads. You can match them for a while, but it's difficult over the course of a season when injuries and suspensions start to kick in. It can harm the squad if you've not got the strength in depth, but you never know." Hibs were a poor side at home winning only five of their 19 homes games in league action last season. Brown admits all the players are eager to change that statistic and make Easter Road among other SPL sides' least favourite grounds to visit. He said: "It was a disappointing season for everyone. Hibs changed the manager during the season, which didn't help. Confidence is important and by and large the home form wasn't good enough. As a team that's something we're looking to address this season. If you want to be towards the top of the league you have to pick the majority of your points at home." The former Kilmarnock and Celtic 'keeper admits the club suffered an up and down campaign following Colin Calderwood's midseason appointment, although he believes his influence is now shining through. He went on: "It was difficult for him at first as he didn't know much about the players having come up from England. Initially he had to try and get to know about the players while playing games, which wasn't ideal. I think you can see the benefits of working with the players every day in pre-season. It's been good. All the players have enjoyed pre-season. It's been hard, but an enjoyable time at the same time." Brown is vying with Graham Stack to get the nod from Calderwood to start their season opener and is hoping he has done enough in pre-season to impress the club's current manager. Brown concluded: "It's a difficult challenge. You need competition for places. No-one is guaranteed their place in the team. I'm just working hard and when I've got the chance to feature in pre-season I'm just looking to do my best. Hopefully come the first game of the season I'll be the one the manager puts in the team."
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