ONLY Hibs can get taken over by a billionaire and get worse. That was the kind of gallows humour which was doing the rounds on social media yesterday after the Easter Road side’s miserable start to the season continued with this comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Fir Park. That kind of mockery seemed gentle, mind you, compared to the calls – both online or in person – which were also coming in for manager Paul Heckingbottom to be sacked.

It is unclear whether the former Barnsley manager has reached the point of no return yet but international weeks can be dangerous times for club managers whose teams aren’t performing. The only good news is that Heckingbottom still has time to add to his squad before the window closes and the fact that Hearts under Craig Levein are still two points worth off than he is.

“I shook hands with the staff and everything so I didn’t hear it,” said Heckingbottom, of the audible chants from a section of supporters after the final whistle leaving little room for dubiety about what they wanted ‘Hecky’ to do. “But that’s what you get paid to take.”

The problems with Heckingbottom’s side yesterday were glaringly obvious. And to be fair, he didn’t varnish them. Lack of technical ability wasn’t one of them, with the likes of Scott Allan, Stevie Mallan, Daryl Horgan and Flo Kamberi around. But the balance was wrong – how they could have done with a Marvin Bartley or a Mark Milligan to chaperone them.

Whether he gets the time to affect all the changes he wants, Heckingbottom wasn’t afraid to call them out for being too easy to play against and getting dominated in one v ones by a Motherwell side who were far too dynamic for them on the day. An injury list which includes David Gray, Darren McGregor, Tom James and Martin Boyle doesn’t help but all teams suffer injuries.

"It's obvious for me what we need to change and how we need to do it,” said a defiant Heckingbottom. “A pretty team got dominated in one v ones at key moments. It happened in our box and their box.

“You’ve all heard the saying that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” he added. “We worked hard but we were too easy to play against. Most of the players were here last year when we weren’t getting beaten. Some are under-performing. It will be reflected in the teams I pick, it will be reflected in the business we do in the next windows. You might play pretty stuff and have a half-decent season but we want better than that.”

It would be wrong to spend all of this report banging on about Hibs’ faults, however. Because they found their counterpoint in a Motherwell side brimming with energy and endeavour, one which had the right balance of attacking verve and defensive steel.

While Marciano tested Mark Gillespie from range within seconds, the Fir Park side had the chances to score five or six on the day. Chris Long should have given them the lead in the second minute but his close-range finish was saved by the feet of Ofir Marciano.

The first half was even enough but when the going got tough, Hibs disappeared. Sherwin Seedorf, a distant relative of Clarence, got the ball rolling, taking a fine pass from the excellent Liam Donnelly wide on the left, and cutting in to find the bottom corner from an angle.

While a sweet Allan pass played Kamberi in for a chance, the power, physique and technique of James Scott was posing Lewis Stevenson a problem and the forward should have double Motherwell’s lead had he been able to keep his shot down.

The Fir Park side had gone close a couple of times in the second half alone by the time they got their second. Liam Polworth delivered a pinpoint corner, and Declan Gallagher’s header was on target had it not struck Adam Jackson’s hand. Donnelly steered in his fourth of the season, and Hibs could have no complaint considering Steven Whittaker was fortunate not to concede another penalty shortly beforehand for a tug on Jermain Hylton.

Motherwell have the capacity to shake things up from the bench and Hylton and Davante Cole managed that here. It was the former who grabbed the third, cutting in off the left to fire in a shot which Marciano couldn’t keep out. They quietly move to fifth, the kind of position both Edinburgh clubs and their beleaguered managers would give anything for.

“I thought it was a convincing performance and we should have won by more goals,” said manager Stephen Robinson. “I will keep my feet on the ground but we will enjoy tonight. The international break will give us a chance to get the boys that bit sharper.

“I think we’re working at about 60% at the moment," he added. "We can’t carry players but if we can get them into shape over the next couple of weeks then we will have an exciting team on our hands again.”


Motherwell 3

Seedorf 23, Donnelly 80, Hylton 86

Hibs 0