Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hibs: The Victor Palsson Pattern

So Hibs decide to say farewell to Victor Palsson, the young Icelandic player they signed from Liverpool this time last year.

Contract terminated with immediate effect.

Or contract bought out in a mutually agreeable way to free up some wages for what is, at this stage in the transfer window, a rather slow-burning rebuilding job at Easter Road.

Palsson came with quite a pedigree. An Icelandic under-21 player who had, it was widely reported, been tipped as having real potential under a previous Liverpool managerial regime.

The sort of player, in fact, who you might expect to rip up the SPL.

And he started well. His arrival coincided with the one good month of form Hibs enjoyed under Colin Calderwood, the one good month of form that freed the side from last year's relegation jitters.

Then nothing. A slide into anonymity on the pitch. I can't remember his last stand-out performance.

Calderwood stuck with him, maybe determined to back his own judgement or maybe clinging to whatever misfiring lucky charm he could find.

But the form didn't return, he left the team when Calderwood departed and new manager Pat Fenlon has acted with a speedy finality.

Why?

That question's got me stumped.

There are whispers of behaviour more befitting a normal twentysomething than a dedicated young athlete. But Hibs were keen to stress at their AGM that reported wrongdoings were a case of the local press getting the wrong end of the stick. And many good players don't live like saints.

Was it simply the team's lack of form?

That can't have helped, it wouldn't help anyone. But - despite his youth - Palsson looked at first to be the sort of player who could offer the drive and vigour that would drive others on rather than the sort who would let himself be dragged down.

Maybe his attitude didn't help, maybe he just didn't fancy those away trips to Hamilton and Dunfermline and it began to show in his application.

Maybe he was just not good enough, the progress he had made as youngster down to circumstance, good luck and being surrounded by better players.

I don't know.

My mind goes back to a conversation with a former Hibernian player on the final day of last season.

We were chatting about the signings Calderwood had already made and what optimism Hibs could have for the future.

His concern, he said, was Hibs' habit of signing players who would shine for three or four games and then simply disappear, take a wage and offer nothing.

That pretty much covers the story of Victor Palsson. Is that a failure of coaching? Man-management? Scouting?

Whatever the cause, it's a debilitating pattern that Fenlon now needs to break.