Craig Gilbert says the new year can throw up some strange results – so he is urging Thornton Hibs to ensure they are not on the wrong end of one of them.
The Hibs manager believes players can be guilty of over indulging during the festive period, which can lead to sluggishness and shocks results once the league action gets back underway.
The Hibs have enjoyed an impressive first half of the season and sit third in the new revamped East Superleague and, with games against Whitburn and Downfield on January 5 and 12, Gilbert has demanded his team start 2019 with a bang.
The Hibs secured a 2-0 win over Cupar Hearts in a bounce game last Saturday and Gilbert is urging his side not to let their standards slip heading into the new year.
He told the Gazette: “We’ve got to try and keep them ticking over.
“The worst time for teams dropping points is the first two games after the festive period. You get a few strange results because people take their eye off the ball.
“They have too much turkey at Christmas, don’t go to the gym or go for a swim for two weeks, and that is a long time to be doing nothing.”
Gilbert concedes he couldn’t have asked much more from his side so far this season, with them flying high in the league and through to the latter stages of the cups, including the Scottish Junior Cup after impressive results over Kirkintilloch Rob Roy and Renfrew saw them go through to the last 16.
He said: “I say to the boys every year, you’re having a good season if you’re in cups after Christmas because you are in the latter stages of competitions.
“It is very pleasing. We are third in the Superleague so we would have bit your hand off for that as we were just looking to survive in our first season in the league.
“It’s down to the guys’ hard work on the park and doing the right things. We are taking our chances when they come.
“The boys are more experienced, some of them have been here for seven or eight years so they are a vastly experienced team.”
Asked what has been behind the impressive start, Gilbert said: “When you are winning, it is easy to keep the boys happy.
“It’s simple, you do not need to say much and you get 15 at training. It’s difficult when you’re at the other end and fighting for your lives, the numbers dwindle – we have been there before.
“A couple of players have been suspended but the boys who have come in have done well and now it is their jersey to lose. It’s good having squad depth and players fighting for places.”