'It wasn't a Hibs team I recognised' - Marvin Bartley on plight of former club

Marvin Bartley (left) says he is surprised by former team Hibs' poor start to the season
Marvin Bartley (left) says he is surprised by former team Hibs' poor start to the season

Livingston midfielder Marvin Bartley says he "did not recognise" former club Hibernian in the first half of last week's 2-2 draw at Easter Road.

The visitors led 2-0 at the interval but were pegged back by a controversial penalty and a stoppage-time leveller.

But it was not enough to save Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom who was sacked in the wake of Saturday's League Cup semi-final loss to Celtic.

"They seemed disjointed," Bartley said of his old team.

"It was strange. It seemed to me like the boys were playing within themselves. There didn't seem to be the connection between the manager and the team.

"It wasn't a Hibs team I recognised in terms of the normal things you would see, the hard work, putting bodies on the line.

"But credit to the fans, they were superb in the second half and didn't turn on the team. They dug them out of a hole."

Heckingbottom, who succeeded Neil Lennon in February, was relieved of his duties on Monday, with the Edinburgh side just one point off the bottom of the Premiership after 11 games and without a league win since the opening day of the season.

"I was surprised by how they started," said Bartley, 33, who was released in the summer after four years at Hibs.

"When you saw them struggling you thought 'next week they'll be okay' but, before you know it, you're almost a third of the way through the season and they are in the bottom three.

"Paul is a coach I respect. He's a perfectionist but things were just not going for him. It may be the turnover of players was too high.

"They've got some big characters missing with Darren McGregor and David Gray on the sidelines. For me, Steven Whittaker is someone you put in for his experience - he's a born winner.

"The manager changed the style as soon as he came in but maybe that happened too quickly and he tried to go a little bit too much possession-based.

"When I left they maybe didn't think they needed a ball-winner in midfield because they were going to dominate the ball.

"This season, teams have had a go at them because they haven't got that physicality and that's probably where they have crumbled a bit, trying to force Stevie Mallan, who is a wonderful footballer but not a holding midfielder, into a role he's not really comfortable playing."

Bartley went on to say he was still waiting for an explanation from referee Gavin Duncan for the soft penalty Hibs were awarded when Scott Allan toppled under pressure from his former team-mate.

"There was no contact," he insisted. "The referee said I had taken both of Scott's legs and he was 100% sure.

"I got told if the referee was to see it and he was wrong he would apologise, so I'm keeping my phone charged."

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