Hearts may not be playing brilliantly at the moment but we’ve only lost one in seven games so the resilience which has characterised our play for years is still very much there.
That was very much in evidence at Fir Park on Saturday as defences were well on top. It looked all the way through as if one goal would be enough to win it but neither team could create enough clear chances or, when they did, beat the goalkeepers.
The hardest aspect of football is to be creative and score goals. But defending is also an art to be admired, and Hearts have plenty good defenders and a recognised back six in place which has helped us pick up a fair amount of points while not scoring as many goals as we would like. Unfortunately, we’re still searching for the right blend in attack, but we can’t be disappointed with a point away to a Motherwell side who had hit five in their previous game up at Inverness.
We’ve still not won back-to-back league games this season and that’s symptomatic of a transitional season, which is what we all knew this was going to be from the outset. While we haven’t been able to win consecutive league games, Celtic very rarely lose back-to-back games, so Wednesday’s game at Tynecastle is going to be a real test for Hearts after Neil Lennon’s men lost at home to Inverness. Neil will be expecting a positive response from his team in what is usually a very fiery fixture.
After that, we have the Scottish Cup tie at Easter Road, which takes care of itself in terms of preparation. Hibs have now lost their unbeaten home record in the league, so we have to be looking to add a bit more misery to our city rivals when we head down there on Sunday. Going back to Wayne Foster’s winner in 1994 and what happened at Hampden in May, there is plenty for Hearts to take inspiration from and for Hibs to be motivated by. Neither set of players will need any extra motivation for this one – if anything they’ll need calming down before it.
When the draw was made, Hibs were flying and Hearts were on a bit of a downer after losing at Dundee, but since then Hibs have had a few defeats and Hearts have had three very decent results so we should have nothing to fear. And don’t underestimate the power of Hearts’ 12-game unbeaten run in the derbies. That can be massively influential in the psychology of both teams. I remember when I played in the 22-in-a-row side, we always went in a lot more relaxed because we always had a feeling that even if we didn’t play well, the gods would smile on us. The two sides are very evenly-matched now, so it will be interesting to see how it pans out.
The one sure thing for the Hearts players is that, with the intensity of the next two games, they will be absolutely shattered come next Sunday night.
The last week has thankfully been a lot quieter than the previous couple in terms of off-the-field matters at Hearts but whatever unfolds the priority has to be that the long-term future of the club is secured. I keep hearing people saying “we need to do this” or “we need to raise that” to get through to the end of the season, but I’m more concerned by what will happen beyond the end of the season. Nobody really seems to be thinking about what’s going to be happening beyond then. Yes, the apparent gravity of the club’s situation at present means those in charge of the club have to be thinking in terms of keeping the club afloat in the short term, but the long-term situation remains my main concern.