Paul Heckingbottom: 'Future on knife-edge for under pressure Hibs boss'

Hibernian's home match against Livingston on Wednesday is "huge" for manager Paul Heckingbottom, with his future "on a knife-edge", says former Easter Road midfielder Michael Stewart.

Hibs are one point off the bottom of the Scottish Premiership after only one win from 10 matches.

They surrendered a 2-0 lead against Ross County on Saturday for a fourth draw in a row from a leading position.

"They look too weak, particularly in the middle of the park," said Stewart.

"That comes down to recruitment, and a lot of the guys the manager has brought in don't seem to be cutting the mustard.

"Wednesday's is huge. If they get beaten and let's say they get gubbed by Celtic at the weekend [League Cup semi-final], that could well be terminal.

"He's relatively new to the job but that runs out very quickly - and for a lot of supporters it's run out already.

"Things are really on a knife-edge. If they get a result against Livingston, they can say: 'We're unbeaten in five and we've won our last game.'

"They might get some positivity from it."

Former Barnsley and Leeds United boss Heckingbottom took over from Neil Lennon in February and steered Hibs from eighth to a fifth-place finish, going unbeaten in his first 10 league matches.

Over the summer, he reshaped the squad with 10 signings and allowed veteran duo Mark Milligan and Marvin Bartley to move on. This season, he has lost captain David Gray, Darren McGregor and Martin Boyle to injuries.

"I don't believe you can let experienced players leave and bring in a pile of different players and expect it just to happen," said Mickey Weir, a 1991 League Cup winner with Hibs. "Recruitment was too rushed and players are still trying to find their feet.

"Fans are running out of patience. It's not just results, the style of play is a big concern.

"We shouldn't be setting up with two sitting midfielders and one man up front at home to Ross County. At 2-0 we don't look safe, we're sitting in, inviting teams on."

Former Scotland striker Kenny Miller started his career at Easter Road and describes Heckingbottom as "a top coach" but worries for the future of the Yorkshireman.

"I know he's working tirelessly to get the best out of the group he's got but I don't think he's really endeared himself to the fans," said the Partick Thistle forward. "We had the same issue at Thistle with Gary Caldwell, there was a bit of a disconnect between the manager and the fans.

"Had they been winning games, nobody would be caring. But results have been poor and when you are in that run it is very hard to break. It's only grit and determination that can get you out of it. Forget styles, it's about getting over the line and getting a win.

"With no disrespect, Livingston are a team Hibs should be beating at home. It's an opportunity to build momentum."

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