It’s impossible not to focus on Juanma after a game in which his mistake effectively cost Hearts any chance of victory against St Johnstone.
He claims he didn’t touch David Wotherspoon, but if you put yourself in that position, you are giving the referee a decision to make, which could go either way. In this case, it went against him and he is now facing his second suspension in his short time at Hearts.
Robbie Neilson has spoken about the fact Juanma is adapting to a new style of play and a new culture, and he probably is entitled to six months or a year to fully find his feet. Hopefully, after his latest misdemeanour, he has learned once and for all he’s been sailing too close to the wind in terms of the way he conducts himself on the park.
He’s a big lump of a boy who should be making players worry about him, rather than allowing other players to get under his skin. He’s let a few players get to him this season, so he needs to start using his physicality to the benefit of himself and the team, rather than go confronting people.
There’s no question he’s a decent football player but we don’t want him to start becoming a liability. The danger in Scotland is that a player gets an unfavourable reputation that sticks with him. We’ve got a small group of referees and the same teams play each other regularly, so we don’t want everyone talking about how Juanma is easy to wind up, or that referees need to keep an extra keen eye on him. In football, you have to be a quick learner, and I think that certainly applies to Juanma at the moment, because his team-mates certainly bailed him out on Saturday.
We had our fair share of breaks on the day and Neil Alexander was in inspired form, but we have to take heart from the fact we held on for a battling point ahead of our match against Celtic on Sunday.
Even though Juanma is suspended, I hope we show more attacking intent this weekend than we did in the League Cup quarter-final defeat. We showed Celtic too much respect in that game, but they are a bit fragile at the moment and I want to see us really get at them. If we start off on the front foot and play with pace and tempo, we definitely have a chance of beating them.