Saturday’s win over Inverness was absolutely massive in lifting the gloom at the club.
For all the off-field stuff we’ve had to speak about over the past month or so, ultimately the supporters’ main concern is simply getting points on the board.
While many have sympathy for players in certain situations, generally fans expect their team to go out and do the business whatever the circumstances. I remember when I played against Celtic in the Coca-Cola Cup in 1996 and we were ravaged by suspension because we’d just had four men sent off at Ibrox. However, as players, you can’t allow that to become an excuse because there’s a certain expectation from supporters that needs to be met. To their credit, the Hearts players, despite the ongoing wage issues, got the job done on Saturday.
Even though the pay issue is a concerning one, I think the players are probably hoping that, because the pay eventually arrived a few weeks late last month, something similar will happen this time round. Of course it’s a testing time for them to go without wages as Christmas is an expensive period for most people, but in the meantime we can only hope they are able to retain their professionalism.
The fact we are now into a run which sees us play four out or five games at home should hopefully bring in some much-needed revenue over the next month to ease the cash flow problems. With that in mind, I would reiterate my plea last week that the supporters turn out in force for these games to back the team and also hopefully contribute to ensuring these players get paid before Christmas, which is an important time for families.
As for Saturday’s win, it wasn’t the prettiest but once again we saw the importance of having someone like Rudi Skacel, who is such a sweet striker of the ball, as he got us off and running. Our other goalscorer, Eggert Jonsson, also deserves real credit, not just for his goal, but also for his performance. To get booked as early as he did and then go on and produce such an influential display speaks volumes about his discipline.
Ryan McGowan also did superbly well. He could easily have allowed his head to drop because, after being one of the bright sparks at the start of the season, he deserved to have been given more appearances in the starting XI than he has. At this moment in time, he’s back in the side, albeit playing out of position at left-back, so all he can do is keep playing well to strengthen his case.
Hopefully this can be the springboard we need to go on a run between now and Christmas Eve. We could definitely do with finding some consistency and with St Johnstone and Motherwell, the two teams directly above us, among our next few visitors to Tynecastle, there’s a real opportunity to start making some headway. This run between now and Christmas Eve, where we have another three home games and a trip to Celtic Park, will have a real say in how our season is going to pan out. Having said all that, this Saturday’s game will be really tough against a St Johnstone side who have made an excellent start under their new manager.
On another note, I’ve banged on enough about the need to have a figure like Donald Park or Sandy Clark at the club to help bridge the gap between youth and first-team level. While such a move has not been forthcoming, at least the club seems to be making good choices in terms of where we are sending our youngsters on loan. We’ve got a raft of youngsters out on loan at Raith Rovers and these guys will benefit massively from working under excellent professionals like John McGlynn and Paul Smith, who have plenty knowledge.
Likewise the boys we have at East Fife will be all the better for getting the chance to work with John Robertson and Gordon Durie. These guys all know the way the Premier League operates and that has to bode well for our on-loan youngsters.
Loss of Speed real tragedy
I NEVER had the privilege of meeting Gary Speed but anytime I saw him, he looked to be a real competitor and was doing an excellent job with the Welsh national team. It was shocking and saddening to learn of his death yesterday. My thoughts are with his family.