The two games over the past week have pretty much epitomised the uncertainty and sense of adversity at our football club at the moment and, unfortunately, I don’t see a short-term fix on or off the pitch. As a group – supporters, managers and players – it looks like we’ll just have to battle through this tough period in the club’s history as best we can.
I thought we performed well against Celtic in midweek and didn’t deserve to lose 4-0, but the difference is that they are clinical and we are not.
Likewise, we didn’t deserve to lose to Hibs yesterday. There really was nothing between the teams. It was very much like a lot of the derbies I played in the early 1990s during the 22-in-a-row unbeaten run. When one team has an unbeaten run in the derby, like Hearts had going into yesterday’s game, it brings pressure for both teams, and I think that was pretty evident throughout a very tense game. The fact it was a cup tie just heightened the pressure and it was little surprise the game turned out as edgy as it did. There were hardly any chances at either end, and although Hearts had a few decent moments in the first half, the game was so tight that it always looked likely that it would be decided on the slightest margin, such as the big deflection that gave Hibs their goal.
If we’d have got a goal when we were on top in the first half, we’d have gone on and won the game, but Hibs were the ones who got the vital break.
The only thing to hang on to at the moment is that we’re in the semi-final of the League Cup, and we could desperately do with getting a result in another big league game against an Aberdeen team who’ll come down to Tynecastle with all guns blazing on Saturday. Their away form has been excellent, so we’ll be in for a hell of a battle against them. .
The key thing for getting ourselves moving in the right direction is to improve the “goals for” column because right now it is not good. Do we stick with 4-2-3-1 or do we try 4-4-2? I really don’t know what the solution is. Right now we are not exactly blessed with lots of strikers, so there is no obvious solution. It might be that we try John Sutton up top with Ryan Stevenson playing off him, so we’ve got a bit of experience up there, but that is a problem for the management team to solve. We have to look at all the alternatives to get things going, though.
I have every sympathy for John McGlynn. There is no way he should be coming under pressure. We have had managers who have had difficult times and poor treatment under the current owner, but none has worked under John’s current restraints. He has two hands tied behind his back and a noose around his neck. The defensive area is the strongest part of our team, but even that is beginning to be eroded. We had no defenders on the bench yesterday. We’re already without Jamie Hamill, we’ve now sadly lost Danny Grainger for the season, and, yesterday, Darren Barr, who can operate in defence, went off injured. We really are in a threadbare state. I only hope that all the football decisions, such as team selection and substitutions, are being made by John.
After the cup final in May, we changed manager and let good players leave who wanted to stay. Hibs, by contrast, stayed faithful to their manager and let him get rid of the players he didn’t want and bring in those he fancied. Our current manager hasn’t had the opportunity to bring in any players. We knew this was going to be a season of transition, so what is happening has not come as a great surprise to me. Calling for the head of a good operator like John is missing the target.