Hearts desperately needed that win yesterday after all the negativity that has been building around the club both on and off the park in recent weeks.
There always seems to be distractions when it comes to Heart of Midlothian – nothing ever seems to run smoothly for any period of time – but, once again, it speaks volumes for the players that they were able to bounce back with a win in such a tough game.
Supporters will only look at the black and white of the result at the weekend, but the wage issue will have provided a distraction for the players off the field, as it did last season. It’s a feather in the cap of the players that, as they did so often last year, they were able to stay focused on the game and perform as they did yesterday.
In terms of results, it hadn’t been a great start to the season, with the team and the manager coming under a wee bit of pressure from supporters. John McGlynn’s a very guarded individual in what he says, so it pretty much summed up the predicament we are in as a club when he said that this rebuilding job is as big as the one the club went through in the late 1970s.
That was a jolt to me when he said that as I remember that period well and it wasn’t particularly pleasant from a Hearts supporter’s point of view. We really were a yo-yo club back then.
So given all that had gone before, yesterday’s win was massive, all the more so given the results of the other teams around us. I think we should be delighted with the manner of the victory. There were a lot of really good aspects to the game in what was a solid team performance by Hearts. The game also highlighted for the umpteenth time this season the value of making sure you get the first goal. With the SPL as tight as it is these days, it’s imperative that you get your nose in front more often than not and we were thankful to Danny Grainger for that yesterday.
He won’t hit many better strikes than the one that gave him his goal and we will need players to pop up with goals like that throughout the season because we are still some way off being a prolific team. Mehdi Taouil was also impressive in midfield and gave us a wee bit of creativity in there and I thought the two wide players, Andrew Driver and Arvydas Novikovas, did well at various times.
Apart from his goal, Danny was also a vital part of a really solid defensive display which ensured Motherwell had very few chances in the game. That was probably the most pleasing thing in the game, the fact the defence looked rock solid. John will now be hoping that the whole team can click into gear after this and go on a wee run.
Our last couple of wins have come against Dundee United and Motherwell – two of the stronger teams in the league on paper – so it shows that, even with the changes to the squad, we are still capable of beating anyone in this league on our day. The key thing, as it is for every team, is winning consistently. The league is so tight that if anyone can string a run together, they will shoot up the table. You only have to look at what St Johnstone have done in winning five on the bounce. There’s no reason why we can’t be looking to do that.
We now have another winnable home game against Ross County next weekend and we have to go into that full of confidence after yesterday’s victory. We have given ourselves an excellent platform to build on.