{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"hearts","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/former-captain-perry-kitchen-on-his-way-out-at-hearts-1-4456156","id":"1.4456156","articleHeadline": "Former captain Perry Kitchen on his way out at Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495661427000 ,"articleLead": "

Perry Kitchen’s Hearts career is all but over after he was told he will not play regularly next season.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4456155.1495649236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Perry Kitchen was named Hearts captain last September"} ,"articleBody": "

The American internationalist will now seek a new club having been replaced as captain at Tynecastle by new arrival Christophe Berra.

The Evening News has learned that Kitchen was informed of the decision before Berra signed and is now likely to continue his career elsewhere. He would prefer to remain in Europe but also has a long list of suitors in the United States, where he was previously voted Most Valuable Player with DC United.

The midfielder’s Hearts contract runs until May 2018 but club officials will not be difficult to deal with regarding his transfer. He left DC United for Tynecastle in March 2016 and was appointed captain six months later. However, he has fallen out of the team since Ian Cathro replaced Robbie Neilson as head coach last December.

Berra’s arrival as the new skipper leaves Kitchen on the fringes of the squad and he needs to play regularly to keep his international place with the USA.

Cathro was reluctant to speak publicly about his discussion with the 25-year-old but the player is expected to leave before the new season begins.

“That’s something for us, naturally he’s not had a great time personally having not been in the side as often as any player would have liked but that’s a personal thing,” said Cathro.

“These are things that happen as a team evolves, as a team grows and moves on. This is a natural thing and we all move forward. It’s important that the [captain’s] role is a more constant role and it’s also important that we have a number of players who live their lives like that.” Rangers had declared an interest in signing Berra, who left Ipswich Town earlier this month fully intent on returning to Tynecastle. He believes Hearts can soon challenge for honours in Scotland once again.

“I don’t have an agent but my old agent mentioned there had been some interest from Rangers, although there was never anything on the table,” said the Scotland centre-back.

“To be honest, I always wanted to come back here. I’m from Edinburgh and I know what the club means to the Hearts fans. Even when I left Hearts and was playing down in England I’d always watch the derby games and miss them.

“I always had it in my mind I’d like to finish my career here and hopefully I’ve now got the opportunity. Hopefully, we’re going to get some good players in this summer. I want to get back to cup finals and to challenge at the top end of the table.

“We all know it’s difficult to topple Celtic at the moment but we want to be challenging Aberdeen and Rangers to get back to where we belong, qualifying for Europe.

“I’ve had conversations to the manager and it’s very exciting. We’ve got a vision so now it’s about getting the right players on the pitch who can carry that out.’’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4456155.1495649236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4456155.1495649236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Perry Kitchen was named Hearts captain last September","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Perry Kitchen was named Hearts captain last September","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4456155.1495649236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-announce-christophe-berra-as-new-club-captain-1-4455616","id":"1.4455616","articleHeadline": "Hearts announce Christophe Berra as new club captain","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495628813000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts have confirmed that new signing Christophe Berra has taken over the mantle of club captain.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4455683.1495631807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Cathro hands over the captain's armband to new signing Christophe Berra. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Berra, 32, returned to Tynecastle yesterday following his release from Ipswich Town and signed a three-year deal. He also skippered the club during his first spell at Hearts.

The Scotland international defender takes over from American midfielder Perry Kitchen, who was club captain last season.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4455683.1495631807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4455683.1495631807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ian Cathro hands over the captain's armband to new signing Christophe Berra. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Cathro hands over the captain's armband to new signing Christophe Berra. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4455683.1495631807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/demolition-of-hearts-main-stand-at-tynecastle-gathers-pace-1-4455296","id":"1.4455296","articleHeadline": "Demolition of Hearts’ Main Stand at Tynecastle gathers pace","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495616356000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts revealed a key building block on the pitch yesterday with the signature of Scotland international Christophe Berra – and, as our video shows, the construction work off the park is gathering pace as well.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4455294.1495616352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Demolition work is continuing at Tynecastle. Pic: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

Demolition work of Tynecastle’s Main Stand is ongoing and diggers have moved in to the lower tier of the stand. Even the press box has been dismantled!

With the shell of the new stand erected around the old structure, workers are having to tread carefully, but it’s clear from these images that progress is being made as Hearts work towards enhancing one of the best arenas in the country,

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4455294.1495616352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4455294.1495616352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Demolition work is continuing at Tynecastle. Pic: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Demolition work is continuing at Tynecastle. Pic: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4455294.1495616352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1495615976485"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/comment-hearts-at-a-crossroads-facing-huge-decisions-1-4455016","id":"1.4455016","articleHeadline": "Comment: Hearts at a crossroads facing huge decisions","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495603848000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts have arrived at the biggest crossroads in three years under Ann Budge. The Tynecastle owner and her associates are currently faced with more possible directions than the nearby Haymarket junction, and picking the wrong one just isn’t an option. It is the most pivotal moment since she took the club out of administration in 2014.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4455015.1495563376!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts director of football Craig Levein, left, and head coach Ian Cathro will be busy this summer with player recruitment"} ,"articleBody": "

A wretched second half of the season saw only six wins in 26 matches after Ian Cathro replaced Robbie Neilson as head coach. Hearts sat second in the Ladbrokes Premiership when Neilson left but finished fifth. Most of the nine new signings in January were sub-standard. Some clearly cared very little about the badge they were representing.

Who replaces them will have a huge influence on whether Cathro can ultimately make a decent fist of his first managerial appointment. He and director of football Craig Levein have wasted no time clearing space in the first-team squad – a fair sign that they intend taking Hearts down the correct path from that aforementioned junction.

Alex Tziolis, Andraz Struna, Lennard Sowah, Tasos Avlonitis, Moha Choulay, Dylan Bikey and Faycal Rherras have all moved on. Regrettably for many, Callum Paterson and Sam Nicholson also intend to leave on freedom of contract, whilst Billy King has already agreed to join Dundee United. It remains to be seen whether Jamie Walker is still a Hearts player come the end of August.

What is not in doubt is the plan to replenish and revitalise the dressing-room. Hearts’ recruitment this summer must be well-researched and bring in the right commodities: A more British if not Scottish core, with experience and desire, plus an understanding of what it means to play at Tynecastle for one of Scotland’s biggest clubs.

Christophe Berra is certainly an encouraging start; confirmation that Hearts are heading towards the right avenue from their crossroads. He has returned to the club he captained before spending the last nine years of his successful career in England. A three-year contract indicates he wants to finish his playing days in Gorgie. The 32-year-old Scotland defender may even be re-appointed Hearts captain for next season.

Also required are two full-backs and a striker, with at least one new winger looking necessary ahead of the new campaign. Budge will watch with interest to see how Cathro and Levein execute their rebuilding programme. Having made millions running her own IT company, the Edinburgh businesswoman knows the value of finding the right staff and not suffering fools gladly.

Hearts fans have suffered too many fools in recent months. Understandably, they are willing those in charge of their club to get recruitment right after the last two transfer windows. One crucial change must be to stop handing long-term contracts to players previously untested at the top level in Scotland – then being forced to loan them out or leave them in the stand earning vast sums in wages. Conor Sammon, Rherras, Gavin Reilly and Juwon Oshaniwa are all examples of the above. Oshaniwa is one of Hearts’ top earners having signed a three-year contract in summer 2015, yet the Nigerian has not played for the club in more than a year. He has been available on a free transfer for around 18 months but no club is willing to take him on the salary he earns.

French midfielder Malaury Martin was given a three-and-a-half-year deal in January but has not proven his worth so far. There remains a doubt over the future of Hearts’ existing captain, Perry Kitchen, who dropped out of the team after Cathro arrived. Kitchen’s compatriot Bjorn Johnsen also faces an uncertain long-term future after a bust-up with Cathro at McDiarmid Park last week.

Then there is the goalkeeping situation after critics rounded on Jack Hamilton. He was first-choice before being taken out of the firing line and replaced by Viktor Noring with three games of the season remaining. The Swede hasn’t covered himself in glory with a costly error on his debut at Ibrox. Do they stick with their current keepers or search for a new No.1?

All these issues must be resolved to pave a clear way forward. Budge is in the process of building a new £12 million main stand at Tynecastle to raise capacity and improve facilities. Almost every penny Hearts have is being invested in the project so she knows she cannot afford to have it half-populated on matchdays. A team performing below standard will not draw in supporters, which is another reason to secure new signings who will have the desired impact.

Cathro and Levein shoulder an unenviable task in that sense. Despite freeing up a significant amount in wages by moving a number of players on, they have only a certain amount of funds available due to the stadium rebuild and must bargain accordingly in the transfer market.

Making informed and astute choices is vital to restore Hearts to a challenging position. Going down the road of tried and trusted new players would be a sensible move, rather than head up a blind alleyway where the future rests on foreign gambles.

It is worth recalling the signing policy Neilson and Levein implemented in the summer of 2014. They needed to rebuild a Hearts team ravaged by relegation and administration and did so by enlisting players who largely knew what to expect.

Morgaro Gomis, Prince Buaben, Neil Alexander and James Keatings arrived offering plenty previous experience of Scottish football at previous clubs. Danny Wilson signed permanently after a loan spell at Tynecastle from Liverpool, and Adam Eckersley came to Edinburgh as a former Manchester United youth who had played in the English league. Osman Sow was a gem plucked from Crystal Palace’s reserves. All of the above underpinned a record-breaking season which culminated in automatic promotion back to the top flight.

A rebuild of a similar scale is necessary again this year. If it goes well and Hearts start strongly in the Betfred Cup in July, it will be a job well done. They can then proceed down the road of making a solid opening to the Premiership campaign in August.

If recruitment is questionable and season 2017/18 begins in mediocre fashion, many people will reserve judgment but patience will not last long given the disappointing end to this season.

If recruitment overall is poor once again and Hearts start slowly, fans will be screaming for Cathro and his assistant Austin MacPhee to be sacked. And probably Levein with them. The brutal truth is that business done over the next few weeks in Gorgie will be the most important since Budge signed that Creditors’ Voluntary Arrangement to take Hearts out of administration.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4455015.1495563376!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4455015.1495563376!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts director of football Craig Levein, left, and head coach Ian Cathro will be busy this summer with player recruitment","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts director of football Craig Levein, left, and head coach Ian Cathro will be busy this summer with player recruitment","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4455015.1495563376!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/christophe-berra-i-want-to-end-my-career-at-hearts-1-4455064","id":"1.4455064","articleHeadline": "Christophe Berra: I want to end my career at Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495569907000 ,"articleLead": "

Christophe Berra plans to end his career at Hearts after agreeing to return to Tynecastle on a three-year contract.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4455063.1495569905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christophe Berra has signed a three-year deal at Tynecastle. Pic: Heart of Midlothian FC"} ,"articleBody": "

He is now in contention to be named captain for next season and admitted the Edinburgh club were the only team in Scotland he wanted to play for after leaving Ipswich Town.

Berra, 32, had his arrival confirmed five months after the Evening News first broke news of Hearts’ intent to bring him home.

As six players left Gorgie – Andraz Struna, Lennard Sowah, Alex Tziolis, Tasos Avlonitis, Moha Choulay and Dylan Bikey – Berra’s return is seen as the first building block for next season.

“It’s a great feeling. I wanted to come back and there’s only one team in Scotland I wanted to play for and that’s Hearts,” said the Scotland centre-back. “I’m born and bred in Edinburgh, my friends and family are here and this is the only club I’ve ever played for in Scotland. Hopefully, I can end my career here.”

Berra revealed how Hearts head coach Ian Cathro and director of football Craig Levein influenced his return to the Capital. After coming through the Hearts youth academy, he left for Wolverhampton Wanderers in a £2.3 million transfer in 2009 before moving to Ipswich in 2013.

“I’ve spoken to Ian a few times and I’ve spoken to other boys about him and they’ve only got good things to say about him,” Berra told the Hearts website. “Craig Levein was also a big factor, he gave me my debut as a youngster and a lot of my career is down to him. So yeah, I’m looking forward to playing for Ian, to playing at Tynecastle again and taking Hearts back to where they should be.”

Slovenian defender Struna departed after failing to agree a new contract with Tynecastle officials. German full-back Lennard Sowah has also gone as the club’s clearout continues.

Both players arrived in January and signed short-term deals but are now moving on as Cathro continues reshaping his squad for next season.

Greek pair Tziolis and Avlonitis have already gone, with winger Choulay returning to parent club Stoke City and forward Bikey also being freed.

Struna held discussions with Hearts about extending his stay although no agreement was reached. The Slovenian internationalist had other options in Europe and has now parted company with the club. He made 17 appearances in maroon and scored one goal.

Other departures include winger Billy King, who will join Dundee United for next season. Callum Paterson and Sam Nicholson are due to leave on freedom of contract.

The exits of all the above-named players will create space in the Hearts first-team squad for more new arrivals to follow Berra.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4455063.1495569905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4455063.1495569905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Christophe Berra has signed a three-year deal at Tynecastle. Pic: Heart of Midlothian FC","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christophe Berra has signed a three-year deal at Tynecastle. Pic: Heart of Midlothian FC","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4455063.1495569905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-complete-signing-of-defender-christophe-berra-1-4454736","id":"1.4454736","articleHeadline": "Hearts complete signing of defender Christophe Berra","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495551069000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts have completed the signing of Scotland international defender Christophe Berra.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454735.1495551326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christophe Berra"} ,"articleBody": "

The former Ipswich defender has penned a three-year deal with the Tynecastle club – a move first revealed by the Evening News – and is likely to be captain for the 2017/18 campaign.

The 32-year-old started at Hearts before making a £2.3million move to Wolves in 2009. He then joined the Tractor Boys, where he has been a mainstay in their defence in the English Championship.

He was freed by Ipswich earlier this month as he wants to be closer to his daughter in Scotland, paving a move back to the Jambos.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4454735.1495551326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454735.1495551326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Christophe Berra","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Christophe Berra","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4454735.1495551326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4454743.1495551665!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454743.1495551665!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Berra is back where he started his career. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Berra is back where he started his career. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4454743.1495551665!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-winger-sam-nicholson-considers-usa-move-1-4454653","id":"1.4454653","articleHeadline": "Hearts winger Sam Nicholson considers USA move","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495549035807 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts winger Sam Nicholson is wanted by American Major League Soccer club Minnesota United.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454652.1495549216!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Minnesota United are keen on Hearts winger Sam Nicholson"} ,"articleBody": "

The 22-year-old will explore the possibility of moving Stateside after rejecting the offer of a new contract at Tynecastle.

English clubs including Barnsley and Sheffield United are also monitoring the situation but would have to pay around £400,000 if they signed Nicholson.

FIFA compensation rules state Hearts would be due that amount if the player stays in Britain but not if he moves to America.

Nicholson is in no rush to decide his future and will look at all options available to him. So far, Minnesota have declared the strongest interest and have notified Hearts of their plans.

Rangers have also been credited with an interest in Nicholson, who is a graduate of the Riccarton youth academy. Hearts would prefer him to join a club in Britain to ensure they receive the compensation for his development.

" ,"byline": {"email": "sport_en@edinburghnews.com" ,"author": "Staff Reporter"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4454652.1495549216!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454652.1495549216!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Minnesota United are keen on Hearts winger Sam Nicholson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Minnesota United are keen on Hearts winger Sam Nicholson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4454652.1495549216!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/andraz-struna-one-of-six-players-leaving-hearts-1-4454315","id":"1.4454315","articleHeadline": "Andraz Struna one of six players leaving Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495545861104 ,"articleLead": "Slovenian defender Andraz Struna has left Hearts after failing to agree a new contract with the Edinburgh club.","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454314.1495535643!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Slovenian defender Andraz Struna has left Hearts"} ,"articleBody": "

German full-back Lennard Sowah has also gone as the clearout continues at Tynecastle. Both players arrived in January and signed short-term deals but are now moving on as head coach Ian Cathro continues reshaping his squad for next season.

Greek pair Alex Tziolis and Tasos Avlonitis have already gone, with winger Mohay Choulay returning to parent club Stoke City and forward Dylan Bikey also being freed.

Struna held discussions with Hearts about extending his stay although no agreement was reached. The Slovenian internationalist had other options in Europe and has now parted company with the club. He made 17 appearances in maroon and scored one goal.

Other departures include winger Billy King, who will join Dundee United for next season. Callum Paterson and Sam Nicholson are due to leave on freedom of contract. The exits of all the above-named players will create space in the Hearts first-team squad for new arrivals.

" ,"byline": {"email": "barry.anderson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Barry Anderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4454314.1495535643!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454314.1495535643!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Slovenian defender Andraz Struna has left Hearts","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Slovenian defender Andraz Struna has left Hearts","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4454314.1495535643!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/mcgowan-brothers-named-in-australia-squad-1-4454249","id":"1.4454249","articleHeadline": "McGowan brothers named in Australia squad","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495534327640 ,"articleLead": "Former Hearts defenders Ryan and Dylan McGowan are aiming for a career-defining moment by playing together for Australia next month.","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454257.1495534391!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dylan McGowan, left, hopes to play beside brother Ryan for Australia"} ,"articleBody": "

The brothers have been named in the same international squad for the first time as the Socceroos prepare to face Saudi Arabia in a World Cup qualifier on June 8. The game takes place in their native Adelaide and, if they impress, they could make the final 23-man group for next month's Confederations Cup in Russia.

Ryan, 27, holds 18 caps but will now welcome younger sibling Dylan, into a provisional 30-man squad. Dylan recently moved from Adelaide United to the Portuguese club Pacos de Ferreira, while Ryan is with Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng in China.

Both players left Adelaide in their teens to join Hearts and played together in the first team at Tynecastle during the 2012/13 season. They are now looking to emulate that feat with their country and become the first brothers to represent Australia since Adam and Joel Griffiths in 2008.

"Any player will tell you that playing for the national team is the biggest moment and the best thing they can do," said Dylan. “As brothers, to do it would be extra special. It was a bit of a surprise to get the call-up but I was over the moon to get it. With the game being in Adelaide, it all adds to the story."

Dylan was en route to Portugal when he got the call from Ange Postecoglou, the Australia national coach. "I had a few missed calls from the Socceroos team manager and about ten missed calls from my brother, so I thought something must be up,” he told Adelaidenow.com.au.

"Ryan said congratulations and that I deserved the call-up. I’m just happy that I’m on the radar and it’s given me something to push towards in my next career move in Portugal.

"There’s still obviously another big cut to come before a ball is kicked, so we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves. I’m just really excited and looking forward to hopefully getting an opportunity to train with the team and to test myself at that level."

" ,"byline": {"email": "barry.anderson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Barry Anderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4454257.1495534391!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454257.1495534391!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dylan McGowan, left, hopes to play beside brother Ryan for Australia","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dylan McGowan, left, hopes to play beside brother Ryan for Australia","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4454257.1495534391!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/cameroon-call-up-hearts-arnaud-djoum-for-confederations-cup-1-4454224","id":"1.4454224","articleHeadline": "Cameroon call up Hearts' Arnaud Djoum for Confederations Cup","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495532448567 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts midfielder Arnaud Djoum has been named in Cameroon's squad for the Confederations Cup in Russia.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454223.1495532543!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts midfielder Arnaud Djoum will play for Cameroon in the Confederations Cup"} ,"articleBody": "

The tournament is a precursor to next summer's World Cup and involves eight countries - Russia, New Zealand, Portugal and Mexico in Group A, plus Cameroon, Australia, Chile and Germany in Group B.

Djoum will spend a month with his international colleagues as they face Morocco in an African Cup of Nations qualifier on June 10, then a friendly against Columbia on June 13.

The Confederations Cup starts on June 17 and runs until July 2. It will take place across four Russian cities - Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi.

Djoum played a key role in Cameroon's African Cup of Nations triumph in Gabon in February this year.

" ,"byline": {"email": "barry.anderson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Barry Anderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4454223.1495532543!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454223.1495532543!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts midfielder Arnaud Djoum will play for Cameroon in the Confederations Cup","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts midfielder Arnaud Djoum will play for Cameroon in the Confederations Cup","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4454223.1495532543!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/jamie-brandon-making-my-debut-against-celtic-was-all-i-d-hoped-for-1-4453839","id":"1.4453839","articleHeadline": "Jamie Brandon: Making my debut against Celtic was all I’d hoped for","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495517457000 ,"articleLead": "

Jamie Brandon wasn’t for wilting in the Celtic Park heat. In what represented the ultimate baptism of fire for any young Scottish player, the 19-year-old Glaswegian was pitched in for his Hearts first-team debut against an invincible Celtic side in front of almost 59,000 people.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4453838.1495477144!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Brandon was deployed at wing-back by Ian Cathro, where part of his role involved nullifying the twin threat of Celtics lethal left-sided marauders of Scott Sinclair, above, and Kieran Tierney"} ,"articleBody": "

While development players tend to be bedded in gently with a couple of late substitute appearances in low-key matches to let them find their feet, Brandon, who had been an unused substitute in the defeat at St Johnstone last Wednesday, was thrown straight into the starting line-up on Sunday at the home of a club celebrating both their sixth league title in a row and the 50th anniversary of their European Cup triumph.

While there was an obvious danger of the untried youngster being overcome by the magnitude of the occasion as an electric atmosphere gripped a party-mode Celtic Park in the run-up to kick-off, the decision to start him in such a daunting environment was a calculated call by Hearts management, who had full faith that the young right-back could handle the challenge.

Deployed at wing-back, where part of his role involved nullifying the twin threat of Celtic’s lethal left-sided marauders Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair, Brandon didn’t disappoint. Aside from a slack clearance which allowed Stuart Armstrong to seal a 2-0 home win, the teenager played with a level of composure and presence that belied the fact his only previous football this season had come in the development league.

“It was a great experience playing in front of 60,000 people,” he said. “It was a great feeling to walk out for a game like that. There was a party atmosphere in the stadium but we just had to focus on trying to do our best to get a result for ourselves. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, but I feel I did well. I could have done better for the second goal, but I just need to learn from it.”

Brandon, who joined from Rangers along with best friend Rory Currie last summer, had no idea he would be starting at Celtic Park until 24 hours before the match. “I’ve been training with the first team but I had no indication during the week that I was going to start,” he said. “I hoped I might have a chance of being on the bench and getting on for a bit but I didn’t expect to start. I found out on Saturday that I’d be starting when we were working on shape in training. I was really excited and really looking forward to it. I phoned my dad, and my mum’s away on a trip just now but I let her know as well. My dad came to the game.”

The presence of the 37-year-old Aaron Hughes at centre-back and 34-year-old captain Don Cowie ahead of him on the right side of midfield gave Brandon some welcome assurance on his big day. “It helped having Aaron in defence because he spoke me through the game, and I also had Don in front of me for most of it, so that helped me a lot,” he explained. “The first time I got the ball, I didn’t realise how quick the tempo was. In the first five minutes or so you’re a bit nervous, but after that it settles, and it just becomes a game of football. I felt fine after that.

“It’s a huge difference from the development league because you’re going to playing against the best players in the country. Scott Sinclair’s a good player who has played in the English Prem so it was a great experience to play against him. It’s great for me to show that I can deal with that kind of game and that kind of environment. It’s a big step forward for me.”

Brandon has relished his first year within Hearts’ academy and intends to ensure that Sunday’s start is the first of many. “When I first came through last year, I liked the set-up and I felt Jon Daly and the rest of the coaches could benefit my game, and that’s proving to be the case. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s great to have Rory here as well because he’s my best pal.

“I had a back injury in January and I was out for two months, then I came back and did well and managed to get myself involved with the first team towards the tail end of the season, which is always going to be exciting. 
There’s opportunities here, so hopefully I can grasp my chance and move forward.”

Ian Cathro insists Brandon had earned the right to start Sunday’s match and was encouraged by how well he handled his big day.

“He dealt with the game and he dealt with the ball very well,” said the head coach. “It was a big occasion and he’s obviously dealt with it well. He’s a focused player. He’s trained with us for a couple of weeks and shown great qualities in terms of his attitude and his intensity.

“He was deserving of his opportunity, and that’s what this football club does. When young players are ready for an opportunity, they’ll get it, regardless of whether it’s a dead game at the end of the season or a game in October. It wasn’t a gift to Jamie. He gave us qualities on the pitch and took part in the game. I had no concern about Jamie being rocked by it. That’s part of him being ready for it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4453838.1495477144!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4453838.1495477144!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Brandon was deployed at wing-back by Ian Cathro, where part of his role involved nullifying the twin threat of Celtics lethal left-sided marauders of Scott Sinclair, above, and Kieran Tierney","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Brandon was deployed at wing-back by Ian Cathro, where part of his role involved nullifying the twin threat of Celtics lethal left-sided marauders of Scott Sinclair, above, and Kieran Tierney","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4453838.1495477144!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/greek-defender-tasos-avlonitis-leaves-hearts-1-4453370","id":"1.4453370","articleHeadline": "Greek defender Tasos Avlonitis leaves Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495452170604 ,"articleLead": "

Tasos Avlonitis has announced his exit from Hearts after five months in Scotland. The Greek defender confirmed the news on social media as his contract nears an end.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4453369.1495452305!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tasos Avlonitis has confirmed his exit from Tynecastle"} ,"articleBody": "

Avlonitis arrived at Tynecastle as one of nine new signings in January but won't be extending his deal, which expires at the end of the month. He made 11 appearances in total.

Via his Twitter account, the 27-year-old said: \"I want to thank the team of Hearts and all the fans for these five months. It was a difficult period for me to come back after my serious injury and it was my pleasure that I worked with these team-mates and coaching staff!!

\"I wish you all the best for the future! Thank you fans once again! Good luck!!\"

Avlonitis' compatriot Alex Tziolis is also leaving Hearts, with other players expected to follow.

" ,"byline": {"email": "barry.anderson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Barry Anderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4453369.1495452305!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4453369.1495452305!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tasos Avlonitis has confirmed his exit from Tynecastle","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tasos Avlonitis has confirmed his exit from Tynecastle","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4453369.1495452305!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/alex-tziolis-will-leave-hearts-confirms-ian-cathro-1-4452748","id":"1.4452748","articleHeadline": "Alex Tziolis will leave Hearts, confirms Ian Cathro","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495431053000 ,"articleLead": "

Ian Cathro has confirmed that Alex Tziolis will be part of Hearts’ summer exodus.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4452747.1495385133!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Tziolis"} ,"articleBody": "

Several players are expected to depart Tynecastle after the team lost their way badly in the second half of the season and ended up finishing fifth in the Premiership.

Greek international midfielder Tziolis, who was signed on a short-term deal in January, is among those to have played their last game for the club in yesterday’s campaign-ending 2-0 defeat away by champions Celtic. “The situation with Alex was to join us until the end of the season and bring qualities very difficult to get in that [January] window,” said Cathro. “We expect Alex to move on and we wish him well.”

Cathro refused to be drawn on the future of other out-of-contract players, although conversations have been held to establish who will be staying and who is set to depart. The head coach also declined the chance to confirm that Bjorn Johnsen, who remains under contract, will still be at Hearts next season. The striker was involved in a well-documented bust-up with Cathro at half-time in last Wednesday’s defeat away to St Johnstone but retained his place in the starting line-up yesterday.

“Bjorn worked well today in a difficult role,” he said. “You saw a focused player on the pitch today. There also has to be a degree of respect around some of things and some of the comments. I think if there was an issue you wouldn’t have seen such a professional and disciplined performance from Bjorn.”

Asked if he will still be a part of the team next season, Cathro said: “No-one is entirely in control of these things. The market sometimes dictates. But the performance today is one that I would like to have in my team.”

Cathro was disappointed to have ended the season with a fourth consecutive defeat and a tenth in 14 games after second-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and Stuart Armstrong.

However, he took some solace from the resilience his team showed on a day when a rampant Celtic side were looking to complete an unbeaten league campaign in front of a crowd savouring their sixth title in a row and the 50th anniversary of their European Cup triumph in Lisbon.

“It was a difficult environment to come into here, because the whole day was about Celtic having a party,” said Cathro. “You never want to be uninvited guests in that case, so we set about making sure that feeling wasn’t present in the first half and I think we did it relatively well. We were disciplined in what we were doing in trying to get into the game.

“As the match progressed, we could maybe have used the ball a little better more often. There were moments when we did, when we started to get ourselves up and into the game. But we respect that we have played against the best team in the country. For us, there were some okay things and some positive things.”

Cathro, who has had a chastening time since replacing Robbie Neilson as head coach five months ago, is now focused on ensuring that Hearts are better equipped for next season. “For me, what is important is that we have got through a lot in the last five months,” he said. “We are now in a position where we are very clear in the work we have do, and we start that straight away.

“What should fans expect to see next season? I appreciate the question but I don’t want to say too much about it and instead just get on with it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4452747.1495385133!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4452747.1495385133!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Tziolis","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Tziolis","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4452747.1495385133!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/gary-mackay-i-m-glad-to-see-back-of-terrible-hearts-season-1-4452777","id":"1.4452777","articleHeadline": "Gary Mackay: I’m glad to see back of terrible Hearts season","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495431044000 ,"articleLead": "

I think it’s safe to say every Hearts supporter is glad to finally see the back of this terrible season.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4452776.1495386014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic's Stuart Armstrong, centre, scores his side's second goal against Hearts yesterday. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

We had a really poor start with the European defeat, then we showed a decent level of consistency to get ourselves high in the league, but ever since the change of head coach it’s become a real struggle.

This season was typified for me by the last game in front of the old main stand two weeks ago. I think everyone expected a bit of genuine desire to try and give the stand a fitting send-off, but it just didn’t happen. I know there is a massive difference between Hearts and Tottenham Hotspur in terms of resources and quality, but look at the way their players approached their last game at White Hart Lane against Manchester United compared to our limp effort against Aberdeen.

Plans and projects like the one Hearts are carrying out are all well and good when things are going well, but it’s a different story when it starts to go wrong, as it is now. A transition period is always possible when you have a managerial change but, in nearly six months, I’ve seen no evidence, in terms of results or performances, to suggest that Ian Cathro is equipped to manage a club the size of Hearts. Put bluntly, the last transfer window was the worst I can ever recall in the club’s history.

We can only hope that a more fruitful recruitment drive over the summer, allied to a full pre-season working with the players, can spark a drastic upturn in fortunes. We need to try and put this season behind us and hope that major lessons are learned within the football club because it’s imperative on so many levels that we are well equipped to start next term strongly. We are trying to attract more supporters to fill the increased capacity, and we also have to make sure we retain the core of the current support, who are understandably disillusioned.

You can talk about custodians, directors of football, managers and coaches, but ultimately the most important people at a football club are the supporters and the players. The relationship between them dictates whether the club is in a good place, and right now it is pretty clear that Hearts are not. The team has no identity and it needs sorted urgently.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4452776.1495386014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4452776.1495386014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Celtic's Stuart Armstrong, centre, scores his side's second goal against Hearts yesterday. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic's Stuart Armstrong, centre, scores his side's second goal against Hearts yesterday. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4452776.1495386014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/big-summer-ahead-as-hearts-end-season-as-it-began-1-4452732","id":"1.4452732","articleHeadline": "Big summer ahead as Hearts end season as it began","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495431032000 ,"articleLead": "

A season of woe for Hearts ended as it began – with a spirited defeated at the hands of Celtic.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4452731.1495384020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts head coach Ian Cathro. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The rousing performance they produced in a 2-1 loss at the hands of Brendan Rodgers’ side at a sun-kissed Tynecastle nine months earlier had hinted at a fruitful campaign ahead for a team who had finished third the previous season.

When they rocked up at Celtic Park for their season-ending match, however, their main motivation was to try and mend some damaged pride after a dismal run of results and meek performances since Ian Cathro replaced Robbie Neilson at the start of December and a subsequent bout of ill-fated January transfer business.

Hearts did as well as could reasonably be expected in the circumstances yesterday, standing up to a daunting challenge on a day when most expected them to be lambs to the slaughter. Ultimately their resilience and organisation was breached by second-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and Stuart Armstrong. The damage to their season wasn’t done in losing all four games this season against rampant Celtic, however; it was done by their chronic inability to deal effectively with most of their other opponents in the second half of the season.

Since Cathro took charge, there have been just six wins and 14 defeats in 26 matches in all competitions. The season unravelled particularly spectacularly after the Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Hibs at Easter Road in February, a match which sparked a season-ending run of ten defeats in 14 games.

A fifth-place finish masks the reality that Hearts have been one of the worst-performing sides in the country since the turn of the year. They finish the campaign 12 points behind a St Johnstone side they were nine points above last term and a whopping 30 points below an Aberdeen side they got within six points of a year ago. The regression at Tynecastle is clear and unarguable. A big summer looms as the club bid to get back on an even keel following a couple of years of impressive post-administration progress.

Underlining the level of – largely detrimental – change at Hearts over the course of the season, only two players – Don Cowie and Arnaud Djoum – featured in yesterday’s starting XI who had also started against Celtic on the opening day of the league campaign. There was a surprise debut for teenager Jamie Brandon at right wing-back, while Bjorn Johnsen retained his place despite his bust-up with Ian Cathro at half-time in the 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone on Wednesday. Viktor Noring kept the gloves for the third game running as first-choice goalkeeper was again left on the bench alongside talisman Jamie Walker. Lennard Sowah, Andraz Struna, Angus Beith and Sam Nicholson were all missing from the squad as 16-year-old Euan Henderson was named among the substitutes.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, eager to complete a historic unbeaten league campaign, took no chances with his team selection and sent out his strongest available team. Adding to the formidable nature of the match was the party atmosphere inside Celtic Park in the lead-up to kick-off as 58,000 home supporters prepared to celebrate their sixth league title in a row as well as the 50th anniversary of their club’s famous European Cup triump.

The Hearts players emerged to a spectacular scene before the match as the Celtic fans held up plastic banners in an impressive show of appreciation to the Lisbon Lions. As he joined his colleagues at the mouth of the tunnel to form a guard of honour for the champions, young Brandon would have noted that he was operating in a vastly different environment to that which he is accustomed in the SPFL development league.

Despite the pre-match fears of their supporters, Hearts, operating with a 4-3-2-1 formation, were organised and competitive for most of the game and ensured Celtic were largely restricted to shots from distance during a low-key first half. In the opening 20 minutes, Griffiths curled a free kick just wide and Kieran Tierney rasped a 30-yard striker over the bar.

Esmael Goncalves had Hearts’ first effort midway through the half when he fired a free kick high over and Armstrong then blazed over from distance at the other end before Callum McGregor tested Noring with a low 20-yarder. Hearts threatened just before the half hour when Alex Tziolis fired a powerful free-kick from the angle of the box inches over Craig Gordon’s crossbar. Celtic enjoyed a short flurry of pressure in the lead-up to half-time but, aside from the assured Noring having to be alert to block a close-range volley from Dedryck Boyata, the champions were unable to get a proper sight of Hearts’ goal.

The breakthrough came in the 50th minute when Griffiths headed in Patrick Roberts’ cross, but Hearts refused stuck manfully to their task. Noring blocked from Scott Brown and then at the other end Johnsen tested Gordon with a low shot from the edge of the box. Celtic put the game beyond doubt in the 75th minute when Armstrong lashed high into the net from eight yards out after Brandon failed to properly clear a Griffiths delivery from the right. It was harsh on the 19-year-old who had otherwise produced an accomplished performance in demanding circumstances.

Hearts enjoyed a late flurry in which substitute Malaury Martin twice went close and Johnsen glanced a header against the inside of the post. Although they finished the campaign with a fourth consecutive defeat, Hearts managed to escape Glasgow’s east end with damage kept to a minimum. The players headed over to applaud the small travelling support at the end – some of them for the final time. A summer rebuild beckons at Tynecastle. In light of this largely dispiriting campaign, those in power must ensure it is spot on.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4452731.1495384020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4452731.1495384020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts head coach Ian Cathro. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts head coach Ian Cathro. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4452731.1495384020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/celtic-2-hearts-0-jambos-can-t-halt-invincibles-1-4452542","id":"1.4452542","articleHeadline": "Celtic 2, Hearts 0: Jambos can’t halt invincibles","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495373249000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts ended a season of woe with a spirited defeat away to champions Celtic.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4452541.1495373247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Leigh Griffiths opens the scoring. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Second-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and Stuart Armstrong ensured the Parkhead side completed a historic unbeaten league campaign amid a party atmosphere.

Hearts, who were assured of a fifth-place finish in the Premiership regardless of the result, gave a surprise debut to teenager Jamie Brandon at right wing-back, while Bjorn Johnsen retained his place despite his well-documented bust-up with head coach Ian Cathro at half-time in the 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone on Wednesday. Viktor Noring kept the gloves for the third game running as first-choice goalkeeper was again left on the bench alongside talisman Jamie Walker. Lennard Sowah, Andraz Struna, Angus Beith and Sam Nicholson were all missing from the squad as teenager Euan Henderson was named among the substitutes.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, eager to complete a historic unbeaten league campaign, took no chances with his team selection and sent out his strongest available team.

After a battling first-half display in which they largely restricted their rampant hosts to shots from distance, Hearts fell behind four minutes after the break when Griffiths nodded in a Patrick Roberts’ cross.

Celtic struck again in the 75th minute when Armstrong lashed high into the net from eight yards out after Brandon could only partially clear a Griffiths delivery.

Hearts enjoyed a late flurry in which substitute Malaury Martin twice went close and Johnsen headed against the inside of the post.

Although they finished the campaign with a fourth consecutive defeat, Hearts, who had been deemed lambs to the slaughter by most in the build-up following an abject second half to the season, managed to escape Glasgow’s east end with damage kept to a minimum.

Celtic (4-3-3): Gordon, Gamboa (Rogic 46), Boyata, Simunovic (Toure 70), Tierney; Brown, Armstrong (Sviatchenko 78), McGregor; Roberts, Griffiths, Sinclair. Subs not used: De Vries, Bitton, Forrest, Kouassi.

Hearts (3-4-2-1): Noring; Nowak, Buaben (Walker 65), Hughes; Brandon, Tziolis (Henderson 78), Djoum, Smith; Cowie, Goncalves (Martin 54); Johnsen. Subs not used: Hamilton, Kitchen, Avlonitis, Choulay.

Referee: John Beaton

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWNat Celtic Park"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4452541.1495373247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4452541.1495373247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Leigh Griffiths opens the scoring. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Leigh Griffiths opens the scoring. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4452541.1495373247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/jamie-walker-desperate-for-miserable-hearts-season-to-end-1-4451932","id":"1.4451932","articleHeadline": "Jamie Walker desperate for miserable Hearts season to end","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495290221000 ,"articleLead": "

Jamie Walker admits he cannot wait for Hearts’ nightmare campaign to end.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4451931.1495290221!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Walker can't wait for the season to end. Pic: SNS/Paul Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

A bright future seemed on the cards when former head coach Robbie Neilson left the club sitting second in the Ladbrokes Premiership back in November.

But new boss Ian Cathro has overseen a dramatic slide in fortunes after managing just six wins from 25 games.

That dramatic collapse cost the Tynecastle side their chance at a Europa League slot and they will end the term in fifth, no matter the result of Sunday’s final game at Celtic.

Now wingman Walker is looking forward to washing his hands of his team’s miserable season.

He said: “It’s clear for everyone to see it’s not been good enough. We started the season quite well then had a change of manager.

“A lot of new players came in but we’ve not hit the heights we should have.

“It’s been disappointing. We’ve not reached the expectations of this club and I think everyone just wants to get this season out of the way.

“We’ve got a big task to rebuild in the summer but we’re looking forward to it.”

Cathro’s struggles will make him the early favourite in the bookmakers’ sack race next season, but Walker reckons it is harsh to pin the blame entirely on the head coach.

“When a team is not doing well the gaffer will take most of the blame, but we as players need to take our share too,” he said.

“The gaffer puts the team out but when the players step over the white line they need to work hard and gets results. But we’ve not done that.

“Hopefully the summer can be like a clean slate for him. It’s clear a few guys will leave, but hopefully we can get the right players in and have a right crack at it next year.

“Results show things haven’t been working this season. We’ve got a few players on six-month contracts and obviously Callum Paterson will be leaving, and maybe a few others too, so we’ll need to sign a few bodies.

“I don’t know how many the gaffer has in mind but I think we’ll need a good few to compliment the squad, and hopefully we get the right ones in.”

Before Walker gets to wave goodbye to the Gorgie outfit’s season to forget, there is one more 90 minutes to be completed.

And there is every chance he will end up on the receiving end of more anguish as Brendan Rodgers’ rampant Hoops look to wrap up a historic unbeaten campaign.

Tthe Scotland Under-21 cap, however, is doing his best to remain optimistic.

He said: “It’s going to be a tough game. No one else has gone there and won so we’ve got nothing to lose.

“It’s the last game of the season and there’s nothing left to play for. The pressure is off so hopefully we can go there, relax and maybe get a result.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANDY NEWPORT"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4451931.1495290221!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4451931.1495290221!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Walker can't wait for the season to end. Pic: SNS/Paul Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Walker can't wait for the season to end. Pic: SNS/Paul Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4451931.1495290221!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/jamie-walker-hearts-under-no-pressure-heading-to-celtic-1-4451364","id":"1.4451364","articleHeadline": "Jamie Walker: Hearts under no pressure heading to Celtic","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495258252000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts are under no pressure heading to Glasgow on Sunday hoping to prevent Celtic finishing the league campaign undefeated.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4451363.1495210815!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Walker"} ,"articleBody": "

Winger Jamie Walker believes his team can afford to play with a certain freedom, although he conceded that some of Celtic’s marquee players are “too good” for the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Celtic’s unbeaten run has stretched through the entire domestic season and only Hearts can now stop them finishing the league without a single loss. The Edinburgh club will finish fifth in the table after a disappointing few months which saw them fall out of contention for European places.

With little to play for, Walker believes they can head to Parkhead without any undue stress about facing the champions.

“They’re obviously playing well, no-one else has beaten them, but we have nothing to lose. It’s a no pressure match,” he said. “Hopefully we can go there and maybe relax and see what happens. Everybody is writing us off. We have just got to try and work hard and hopefully get a result.”

Speaking about Celtic’s expensive imports from England, Walker added: “They’re all good players, they’ve played in England and been bought for millions of pounds. [Patrick] Roberts and [Scott] Sinclair are too good for this level, but they’re here and they are producing week in, week out.

“I can learn from them, definitely. When you play for Celtic you get more chances, too. We can look at them and learn stuff from them, for sure.

“I think it says a lot about them, to go through a whole season up to now and not lose one game is pretty incredible. They went into the Champions League and held their own against teams like Manchester City as well. It shows they are a good side – and they’ll only get better. We’ve had a disappointing campaign so if we were to go to Celtic Park and end their run it would be fantastic. We’re going there, there’s no pressure on us and it’s a game we’re looking to win.”

Victory on Sunday looks unlikely given Hearts have only six victories from their last 25 matches in all competitions. Should they pull off the unexpected, it would provide some welcome positivity to end a wretched campaign. It would also give some momentum ahead of summer matches in the Betfred League Cup.

“We’re not going to be in Europe so we have the Betfred Cup and hopefully we can get a bit of momentum going in that. If we win on Sunday we can take that into next season,” said Walker, who added that Hearts players must take responsibility for their performances under head coach Ian Cathro.

“The gaffer has obviously taken a lot of criticism but I think the players need to have a look in the mirror as well and take part of the blame. Everyone just wants to see the back of this season and get back for pre-season. Hopefully we can bring in the right players, the gaffer can get his ideas across and we can have a successful season.”

Colleagues like Callum Paterson and Sam Nicholson are expected to leave Tynecastle this summer on freedom of contract, while Walker’s agreement runs until next summer.

The departure of home-grown Scottish talent signals the end of an era and Walker admitted it is down to the Hearts hierarchy to recruit the correct replacements.

“It’s disappointing but it’s part of football, you’re always going to lose your best players if you’re a club like Hearts,” he explained.

“It’s up to the backroom staff to bring in the right people for us to be successful next season. I’ve still got a year left on my contract so I don’t know if anything will happen in the summer or any offers will come. As it stands I am still here, I am looking forward to getting a holiday and looking forward to next season.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4451363.1495210815!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4451363.1495210815!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Walker","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Walker","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4451363.1495210815!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/on-this-day-hearts-beat-hibs-5-1-in-2012-scottish-cup-final-1-4450211","id":"1.4450211","articleHeadline": "ON THIS DAY: Hearts beat Hibs 5-1 in 2012 Scottish Cup final","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495258200000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts hammered their Edinburgh rivals Hibs five years ago to this day to claim the Scottish Cup in a goal-laden Hampden final.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4450628.1495187051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts players celebrate after beating Hibs 5-1 in the 2012 Scottish Cup final. Pic: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

The Gorgie side, who left Craig Beattie on the bench and David Templeton out of the squad altogether, were forceful early on and Rudi Skacel, a scorer in the Jambos’ 2006 final success against Gretna, headed wide from Andy Driver’s cross.

And Paulo Sergio’s side moved into a 15th-minute lead with a scrappy goal from Grainger’s corner.

Hibs were unable to clear as Andy Webster and McGowan tried to force the issue and then McGowan’s deflected shot sat up kindly for Darren Barr to poke home.

Hearts’ confidence grew and their use of the ball was stretching Hibs, who had Pa Saikou Kujabi booked for a foul on Suso.

Skacel received Ian Black’s pass just outside the box and his shot on the turn took a nick off James McPake as it swerved past Mark Brown and doubled Hearts’ advantage on 27 minutes.

McPake denied Hearts a third with a crucial clearance near the goal-line after Suso’s shot had beaten Brown.

And the on-loan Coventry defender then made a vital contribution at the other end to give Hibs hope.

Tom Soares’ poor corner was cleared but Hibs recycled the ball back to the midfielder on the right and his dangerous low delivery into a crowded area was nudged past keeper Jamie MacDonald by the outstretched foot of McPake.

Referee Craig Thomson showed leniency after Leigh Griffiths pushed Ian Black as the two became involved in a scuffle, the Hibs striker perhaps still smarting from a heavy aerial challenge by the midfielder earlier in the match.

Half-time soon came and went and there was drama seconds after the restart as Hearts were awarded a penalty.

Kujabi pulled the jersey and caught the heel of Suso as the Hearts winger sped along the byeline and the Spaniard tumbled as he made his way into the box.

Thomson pointed to the spot but television replays suggested the foul by Kujabi had taken place just outside the box as the dismissed left-back trudged off the park in dejection.

Grainger calmly swept the ball home from 12 yards for his first Hearts goal.

Hibs’ struggle to contain their opponents at set pieces continued as Ryan McGowan nodded over the line after Brown had got a hand on Stephen Elliott’s initial header.

It got worse for the Leith side when Skacel found space in the D and sent another net-bound shot past Brown.

Black waved goodbye to the Hearts fans as his final appearance for the club came to an end five minutes from time, the midfielder replaced by Scott Robinson.

And within moments the Hearts fans were given the signal to start the celebrations as Thomson brought proceedings to a close.

Hearts: MacDonald, McGowan, Grainger, Webster, Barr, Zaliukas, Santana, Black (Robinson 86), Elliott (Beattie 76), Skacel, Driver (Taouil 84). Unused subs: Ridgers, Prychynenko.

Hibs: Brown, Doherty, Kujabi, McPake, Claros (Sproule 42), Hanlon, Osbourne, Soares (Francomb 76), O’Connor (Doyle 54), Griffiths, Stevenson. Unused subs: Grant, O’Hanlon.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Hearts 5, Hibs 1: May 19, 2012"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4450628.1495187051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4450628.1495187051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts players celebrate after beating Hibs 5-1 in the 2012 Scottish Cup final. Pic: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts players celebrate after beating Hibs 5-1 in the 2012 Scottish Cup final. Pic: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4450628.1495187051!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/ian-cathro-bust-up-with-bjorn-johnsen-overblown-1-4451045","id":"1.4451045","articleHeadline": "Ian Cathro: Bust-up with Bjorn Johnsen overblown","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495198465000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts boss Ian Cathro has played down reports of his half-time bust-up with Bjorn Johnsen but refused to give any guarantee over the American’s Tynecastle future.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4451044.1495199027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts Head Coach Ian Cathro claimed there is no real stroy around his bust-up with Bjorn Johnsen. Pic: SNS/Ross Parker"} ,"articleBody": "

Reports claimed the Jambos boss and frontman Johnsen were involved in an angry exchange as they were heading up the tunnel during Wednesday night’s loss at St Johnstone.

It was suggested the striker reacted angrily when Cathro criticised his effort levels during the opening 45 minutes at McDiarmid Park and the two had to be separated. But Cathro - who took Johnsen off at the break - gave a watered-down explanation of events in Perth as he met the media ahead of Sunday’s final game of the season at Celtic.

When he was asked to clarify whether the 25-year-old was still part of his plans for next term, Cathro replied cryptically: “I don’t know what time he arrived at today but you would have seen a motivated player who is getting himself ready for one more game which is on Sunday.”

But the Hearts boss did insist the row was not as bad as has been made out.

“Bjorn has trained well today and is available for Sunday,” he stressed. “There is no story around that.

“You hope there are a lot of private things. What I’ve got to say - and forgive me I don’t read everything - what made it out wasn’t actually correct.

“There is no real story. It was incorrect as so far as making it a story.

“I would need to make up another lie to pretend it was a story.”

But Cathro did concede passions flared as his team made their way back to the dressing room a goal down.

“There were a lot of people not happy - myself probably most unhappy with how that first half had developed,” he said.

“There were a lot of bits which were unacceptable.

“It can’t be like that and I think the second half demonstrated that that was taken on board.

“Everybody needs to be consistent in their attitudes and approaches so there isn’t a drop-off. We can’t be rocked, we can’t be shook. We need to be able to deliver and perform consistently.

“That is obviously something we are addressing.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANDY NEWPORT"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4451044.1495199027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4451044.1495199027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts Head Coach Ian Cathro claimed there is no real stroy around his bust-up with Bjorn Johnsen. Pic: SNS/Ross Parker","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts Head Coach Ian Cathro claimed there is no real stroy around his bust-up with Bjorn Johnsen. Pic: SNS/Ross Parker","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4451044.1495199027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/opinion-may-19-allows-hearts-fans-to-revel-in-nostalgia-1-4450872","id":"1.4450872","articleHeadline": "OPINION: May 19 allows Hearts fans to revel in nostalgia","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495194333000 ,"articleLead": "

As Hearts fans appeal, plead and pray for the current season to end, remembering brighter days on the field takes on greater precedent.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4450871.1495194333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts players lift Paulo Sergio into the air after Hearts' 5-1 victory over Hibs. Pic: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

Nostalgia becomes a comforting companion. And for Jambos there is no memory more comforting than that momentous day five years ago today. May 19, 2012 will forever be the day in Gorgie. The day an indelible mark was made in the club’s history.

The biggest fixture in the Edinburgh derby’s history took place at Hampden Park between two relatively middling teams as the Capital decamped to Glasgow for the afternoon. Hibs fans will want to forget the names Matt Doherty, Pa Kujabi, Tom Soares, Craig Thomson ... for the maroon and white support, Danny Grainger, Darren Barr, Ian Black – players who would never be near discussion around the club’s greatest – will forever be legends in EH11.

As fans sit at their desks and reminisce, tears of unbridled joy welling up as they remember Rudi Skacel’s double or Ryan McGowan’s diving header from a couple of millimetres, it will be feel like yesterday. Yet, those five years have been a tour de force of endurance. The club has celebrated, worried, suffered, endured and most importantly survived.

Even as Marius Zaliukas hoisted the famous trophy high into the Glasgow sky, and thousands in the stadium, in Gorgie and around the world felt as if they were floating, off the field the club was only heading in one direction. The cup was Vladimir Romanov’s last stand.

The hopes, dreams and ambitions when the Russian-born businessman first arrived had long left. Under Paulo Sergio the team had a mediocre season, finishing fifth in the league, below Motherwell and Dundee United. The football was largely uninspiring and the Jambos went into the cup final on the back of a 5-0 defeat to Celtic.

But all was forgotten on May 19. It was the only match that mattered.

High points would be few and far between in the coming seasons. A draw at Anfield and handful of derby wins. They were interspersed with a disheartening defeat to St Mirren in the League Cup final and an embarrassing semi-final defeat in the same competition the following year to Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Easter Road.

However, the real action was happening away from the pitch. The future of the club was in jeopardy, on field issues were of secondary importance. The key players were weren’t on the pitch but off it: BDO administrators.

BDO were tasked with the convoluted process of foraging their way through red tape, dealing with UBIG, the Lithuanian company which owned a substantial stake in the club and who were a major creditor. Matters became more complicated considering UBIG were also facing financial difficulty.

As conspicuous as Vladimir Romanov was on arrival he was just as inconspicuous when it came to getting out of dodge. As for Roman Romanov the mystery continues.

The club were plummeting towards the second tier, the first they’d play outside the top-flight since 1983. But 2013-2014 was a paradox; while it was demoralising for fans seeing the club struggle through, weighed down by a transfer embargo and a 15-point deduction, it was equally uplifting to witness a club, fanbase and community come together.

With BDO working tirelessly, Foundation of Hearts embodied Sir George McCrae to rally all disparate groups and individuals together, to move in the one direction, to protect the history and future of a historic club.

Just over two years after the biggest day in the club’s on field history, June 11, 2014 was perhaps the biggest off the field as it was announced the club had exited administration. With the vital presence of businesswoman Ann Budge, who agreed to a deal with creditors to buy the club, Heart of Midlothian could begin to rebuild.

With Craig Levein and Robbie Neilson in tow, rebuild the club did. Progress and improvements were made. The top tier was reached after one season, a return to European football the following year.

Since then there has been a stagnation and a regression, but May 19 is the day fans can forget about the current on-filed ills and remember the pinnacle of their Hearts supporting career.

Would fans have taken the last five years for those five goals, that performance, that game, that result? Most definitely.

They reached the highs, they suffered the lows and have risen again to the upper echelons of the Scottish game in a more robust position than before, eager to create more memories like that day in May.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JOEL SKED"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4450871.1495194333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4450871.1495194333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts players lift Paulo Sergio into the air after Hearts' 5-1 victory over Hibs. Pic: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts players lift Paulo Sergio into the air after Hearts' 5-1 victory over Hibs. Pic: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4450871.1495194333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/where-are-the-hearts-scottish-cup-winning-team-of-2012-now-1-4450677","id":"1.4450677","articleHeadline": "Where are the Hearts Scottish Cup-winning team of 2012 now?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495188307000 ,"articleLead": "

Exactly five years ago to the day, Hearts defeated Hibs 5-1 in the 2012 Scottish Cup final. We take a look at what the players that led Hearts to that victory are doing now ...

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4450672.1495194550!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two-goal hero Rudi Skacel may be on the brink of retirement. Pic: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

JAMIE MacDONALD: At Kilmarnock but been out of favour mostly since Christmas. Released by Hearts in 2014 and spent a year with Falkirk before heading to Rugby Park.

RYAN McGOWAN: Still a cult hero at Tynecastle, now enjoying his third spell in China with Guizhou Zhicheng. The Australian played for his country at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

ANDY WEBSTER: Helped St Mirren preserve their Championship status in a rousing end to the season under Jack Ross. Spent two years with Coventry City after leaving Hearts in 2013.

MARIUS ZALIUKAS: After ineffective periods with Leeds United and Rangers, he headed back home to Lithuania last year to join Zalgiris Vilnius. Currently without a club.

DANNY GRAINGER: Captain of Carlisle United in England’s League Two. Enjoying life in his native Cumbria, where he also runs his own football academy for kids.

DARREN BARR: Captain of Dumbarton in the Scottish Championship but still revered for his goal, and subsequent celebration, in the 2012 final.

SUSO SANTANA: The 32-year-old Spaniard is an iconic figure back at formative club Tenerife. He returned there in the aftermath of the 2012 final, and was one of a number of Hearts players who moved on.

IAN BLACK: Left Tynecastle for Rangers in summer 2012 and then joined Shrewsbury Town in 2015. Currently with Blackpool hoping to win promotion to League One via the play-offs.

ANDY DRIVER: Left winger is playing in the second tier in the Netherlands with De Graafschap. Enjoyed a productive spell in America with Houston Dynamo, plus a brief stint at Aberdeen, after leaving Edinburgh in 2013.

RUDI SKACEL: A legend at Hearts for his goals in two spells there. Just endured the ignominy of relegation to Scottish League One with Raith Rovers. The Czech may now decide to retire at the age of 37.

STEPHEN ELLIOTT: Back in his native Ireland playing with Drogheda United and blogging about his football career online. Still only 33.

MARK RIDGERS: Spent the second half of last season at Partick Thistle after a year in America playing with Orlando City’s B team. Linked with a move to Livingston.

MEHDI TAOUIL: Now plays in the Azerbaijan Premier League with AZAL. He left Hearts in 2013 for Turkish club Sivasspor.

DENIS PRYCHYNENKO: Unused sub in the 2012 final and currently playing centre-back in the Belgian amateur leagues with Beerschot Wilrijk.

SCOTT ROBINSON: Just signed a pre-contract agreement with Livingston after an excellent season with East Fife. Had spells with Kilmarnock and Dunfermline after leaving Hearts in 2015.

CRAIG BEATTIE: Plays League Two football for Edinburgh City but will always be remembered fondly by Hearts fans for his winning goal and celebration in the 2012 Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4450672.1495194550!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4450672.1495194550!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Two-goal hero Rudi Skacel may be on the brink of retirement. Pic: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two-goal hero Rudi Skacel may be on the brink of retirement. Pic: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4450672.1495194550!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-boss-cathro-fears-walker-is-suffering-from-fatigue-1-4450149","id":"1.4450149","articleHeadline": "Hearts boss Cathro fears Walker is suffering from fatigue","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495171849000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts head coach Ian Cathro admits winger Jamie Walker may be suffering fatigue after playing more football this year than ever before.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4450148.1495124639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Walker tricks St Johnstone's Brian Easton after coming on as a substitute in Perth on Wednesday"} ,"articleBody": "

The 23-year-old returned from suspension to make his 42nd competitive appearance of the season against St Johnstone on Wednesday night.

He is regarded as one of Hearts’ most influential attacking players having scored 15 times this season.

Cathro believes tiredness may be creeping into his game as the campaign nears an end.

“When Jamie Walker is alive and pushing, he’s somebody who drives the team. I think this is the most football he’s played in a season for a long time,” said Cathro.

“He’s still a young player, so it can become a wee bit more difficult to maintain that towards the end of a season when your body hasn’t had a rest.

“It’s different in April and May to what it is in September and October. There has maybe been a little bit of tiredness. Maybe the break will help over the next few weeks.”

Hearts’ season finishes in Glasgow on Sunday when they face champions Celtic. Players will then report to Riccarton for pre-season training around the middle of June.

The draw for the Betfred League Cup group stage takes place on June 2 and Hearts will be involved this year as they haven’t qualified for Europe. Matches in the tournament will begin in mid-July.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4450148.1495124639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4450148.1495124639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Walker tricks St Johnstone's Brian Easton after coming on as a substitute in Perth on Wednesday","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Walker tricks St Johnstone's Brian Easton after coming on as a substitute in Perth on Wednesday","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4450148.1495124639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/noring-explains-battle-of-jack-and-viktor-at-hearts-1-4449845","id":"1.4449845","articleHeadline": "Noring explains battle of Jack and Viktor at Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495171845000 ,"articleLead": "

Jack and Viktor have fought all season for the Hearts goalkeeping slot. Now is Viktor’s chance to show he’s still game.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4449844.1495114314!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Viktor Noring, right, is fighting Jack Hamilton for the No.1 spot at Hearts. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

With previous ever-present Jack Hamilton relegated to the substitutes’ bench, Viktor Noring is enjoying the opportunity to prove himself in the final three games of the Edinburgh club’s season.

Their forenames are more synonymous with comedy thanks to the popular BBC Scotland television sitcom. Both goalkeepers are deadly serious about their profession, though, and desperately want to be first-choice at Tynecastle next year.

Noring stepped in for Hamilton at Ibrox last weekend and continued against St Johnstone on Wednesday night. Barring injury, he will stay in goal for Sunday’s final game of the season at Celtic Park. The 26-year-old Swede waited ten months for his debut after joining Hearts last July so is itching to make the most of these three opportunities.

Having played only a handful of under-20 matches during those ten months, the rustiness he showed at Rangers’ second goal last week isn’t unexpected. Noring can’t afford to dwell on errors as he strives to seize his opportunity and convince Hearts head coach Ian Cathro to stick with him.

“It’s not easy for a goalkeeper when you aren’t playing. You are either in or you’re out,” said Noring, speaking exclusively to the Evening News. “You just have to be patient and be ready when you get the chance. This is probably a sign that I’ve been keeping my fitness up, training well and playing well in the under-20 games. Now I’m getting the chance to show myself.

“I haven’t played many under-20 matches. About four, five maybe. It’s not a lot. It’s just to keep your fitness up and give you a feeling for the game.

“I think this is my chance. If I was just going to be on the bench next year, probably I wouldn’t be playing right now. I feel like I just want to play games again and it’s nice to get the chance to do that. I will try to show my best form. It’s tough that we’ve lost two games and I haven’t contributed to us getting a win.

“Every game I play now, it’s just going to feel better and better. It felt pretty good on Wednesday night. My kicking was good and my positioning was good, too. If I’m getting more games, then I’m going to grow into this role even more. For being out for ten months and not playing regular first-team games, it feels pretty good.

“I just have to take everything from these games and hopefully I play on Sunday and show up well again.”

Noring’s chance comes right at the death of a season in which Hamilton enjoyed undisputed No.1 status at Hearts. The giant Swede would have been entitled to question if that elusive debut was ever going to come.

“You have to have somewhere in the back of your mind where you believe you’re going to get a chance, otherwise you will lose motivation if you don’t play,” he said. “It’s about keeping yourself mentally ready in case something happens. Something could happen to Jack at any time so I’ve been ready all year. It’s quite nice to get some games to show that. I really enjoyed playing at Ibrox. It was my first time playing there. I had only been there once before.”

Noring doesn’t shirk his culpability in Rangers’ 2-1 victory. His decision to punch rather than catch James’ Tavernier’s cross 60 seconds after Esmael Goncalves had scored Hearts’ equaliser was costly. The ball spun into the air and he then tried to catch it under pressure from two opponents.

“To be fair, the second goal is such a minor mistake that is blown up into something bigger,” he said. “During the whole game, I felt really good. I hadn’t played for ten months but I felt I made some good saves and showed good distribution.

“At the goal, I need to do better at the first cross. I punched it away but then at the second situation I felt I got a little hit when I tried to catch the ball. Then it dropped down and the Rangers player put it in the net. It was a little bit unfortunate but I need to do better on the first cross.”

Now he faces the other half of Glasgow in an environment he knows well. Noring spent five months on loan at Celtic from the Swedish club Trelleborgs in 2013 but doesn’t feel any special edge facing an old club. “It’s not a bigger motivation for me because we’re playing Celtic. I always want to play at the highest level. Playing at Celtic Park is a good chance for me to show I can handle it at the highest level. I thought I handled it well at Ibrox, I felt calm, so now I’m going to go to an even bigger stage and hopefully show what I’m capable of there.”

Thereafter, it will be down to Cathro and the Hearts coaching staff to decide whether Noring should remain their No.1 goalkeeper. Discussions are likely to take place at the end of the season as part of a restructuring of the first-team squad – and 22-year-old Hamilton should not be discounted simply because he finds himself amongst the substitutes right at this minute.

“They said in the media they wanted to give me an opportunity because I deserve it now. I’ve been training well the whole year, I’ve been patient and tried not to be a bad guy. I’ve made sure I was keeping my spirit high in the team and trying to be a good team-mate. Of course there have been hard times with motivation but you just have to believe you are going to get a game. Now I’ve got it and it feels good.

“I have another year on my contract here. In my mind, I always want to play so my mindset for next season is to try to be No.1. We’ll have to see how everything works out. I’m just focusing on the last game. I think everybody will have a chat with the manager to hear what he likes or what he wants you to improve on. We’ll probably have a chat before the season is over.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4449844.1495114314!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4449844.1495114314!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Viktor Noring, right, is fighting Jack Hamilton for the No.1 spot at Hearts. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Viktor Noring, right, is fighting Jack Hamilton for the No.1 spot at Hearts. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4449844.1495114314!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/new-hibs-man-danny-swanson-i-made-up-my-hearts-allegiance-1-4450159","id":"1.4450159","articleHeadline": "New Hibs man Danny Swanson: I made up my Hearts allegiance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1495143013000 ,"articleLead": "

Danny Swanson today exposed the secrets behind his dream move to boyhood heroes Hibs. The St Johnstone midfielder admitted he tried to force a switch to both Hibs and Saints in 2015 rather than join Hearts.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4450158.1495204151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Swanson says embracing the Hearts badge was all an act"} ,"articleBody": "

He also stressed he has never supported the Tynecastle side and only claimed to be a fan to curry favour with their supporters when he signed.

Swanson explained that Hibs are the only club he would leave St Johnstone for – and that he was ready to sign a new contract at McDiarmid Park until the Easter Road club 
intervened.

The 30-year-old agreed a pre-contract with Hibs last month and will join them for pre-season training next month. Crossing the Edinburgh divide doesn’t faze him because he is realising a childhood ambition.

“I’m just getting this out there now. I remember doing an interview when I was at Hearts,” recalled Swanson. “I had to try and get them on my side so I’m giving it: ‘I’m a Hearts fan.’ Just to say, on the record, I’ve never been a Hearts fan. My granny and granda are but all this ‘my dad’s a Hearts fan,’ it’s not so much true.

“You try to get them on your side but it didn’t really help. I’m definitely not a Hearts fan. I still get people asking me if I’m a Hearts fan. No. No chance.

“Here’s something: I texted Alan Stubbs before I signed for Hearts. I phoned Tommy Wright before I signed for Hearts to try and get something sorted. Even though I was excited to sign for Hearts, I tried to get to Hibs. Alan Stubbs said: ‘Nope.’ So I ended up going to Hearts and played really well – not.”

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright offered Swanson a mammoth contract hoping to persuade him to stay. He scored 15 goals in 38 appearances this season, but the pull of Hibs was too strong for the player. It is the second time he has left Perth after a productive spell there.

“Me and the gaffer have a great relationship but ever since I was a wee boy I always wanted to play for Hibs and that’s never changed,” said Swanson. “I’ve turned them down a couple of times to try and play at the highest level in England, but I always felt I was destined to end up there. Thankfully it’s happened.

“To be honest, I didn’t have the bottle to tell Tommy at first. We had a lot of chats about me staying here and St Johnstone offered me a really good deal. Money-wise, it was above and beyond what I expected.

“I think he did understand. He was a bit disappointed I didn’t sign here. I did tell him about other clubs interested. I told him who they were and that I’d turned them down to stay here. If it wasn’t Hibs, I’d still be here.

“From the day I signed for Hibs, he’s never changed. That’s something I really respect him for. A lot of people say he’s resurrected my career and I think he has. He’s just let me go and play and enjoy myself.

“He’s told me already he can’t save me again so I need this to work out. I’m looking forward to getting back after the summer and playing for Hibs.”

READ MORE – Swanson: My late friend Shaun Woodburn wanted me to play for Hibs

Swanson played his last game for St Johnstone on Wednesday night, teeing up the winning goal for Chris Kane in the 1-0 win against Hearts. He misses the last game of the season through suspension.

“I was a bit sad in the changing room with the boys but the fans were great with me considering I’d already signed for another team. They stuck by me and I’m glad I helped the club get into Europe,” he said.

“I left here before and went back to Coventry and I didn’t feel the same. I was always looking forward to going back there but it was different this time. I’ve played with the boys all season and it’s been a big decision for me. I’ve really enjoyed my football here but the pull was because it was Hibs.

“I can’t say anything negative about St Johnstone at all. I’ve loved it here and the gaffer, Callum [Davidson] and Eck [Alex Cleland] have all been excellent. The boys have been great as well. You won’t get a better bunch.”

Swanson is already eager to experience the Edinburgh derby as a Hibs player next season. He made the most of his assist against Hearts on Wednesday with a fist-pump at their travelling fans.

“You’ve got to. I’ve been slaughtered enough by them to be fair,” he said. “It’s all part of the game. You give it out and you have to take it. I can’t wait for the derbies next year. It will be nervous times but I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve been to a lot of derby games and it hasn’t been great for Hibs over the years. Recently it has, but the ones I used to go to weren’t nice.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4450158.1495204151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4450158.1495204151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Danny Swanson says embracing the Hearts badge was all an act","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Swanson says embracing the Hearts badge was all an act","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4450158.1495204151!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}