So far, so good from Hearts. It’s still too early to know exactly how we’ll fare over the season but we certainly look a team destined for another top-six finish.
There was a real assurance about our play on Friday night and it manifested itself in a convincing victory over Motherwell. We scored some superb goals, dominated for long periods and didn’t give away many chances at a venue where we usually struggle.
After being unfortunate not to score in our previous two matches, we got a wee bit of luck for our first goal, which we capitalised on. That goal just before the break gave us an excellent platform to go on and win it.
It was good to see Arnaud Djoum back at his best in the final third after a slow start to the season compared to the standards he set for himself last term. I think he benefited from the balance we had in the team. I’ve written before that I think we’re at our best when both Jamie Walker and Sam Nicholson are starting. There was a nice blend there on Friday, with Perry Kitchen sitting and Djoum being allowed to go and join in with the attacks. His goal capped a really positive personal performance.
I’ve heard some people, notably BT Sport summariser Chris Sutton, criticising Conor Sammon’s contribution on Friday. Personally, I think that’s harsh. As a centre-forward, when you’re playing against two experienced and physical centre-backs, it’s very difficult. It’s probably the hardest position on the pitch to play. It’s easy to criticise a big bustling striker like Sammon when they’re not banging in goals, but, for me, a lot of his work goes unseen. He causes a lot of problems for defenders and allows the likes of Watt, Walker and Nicholson to find space. He was the one that did the groundwork for Callum Paterson’s goal because he kept chasing down the left. He’s maybe not the most technically-gifted player around, but I don’t think there will be many Scottish centre-backs who enjoy playing against him. In my view, he is doing a good job for the team.
After a slightly concerning summer, there’s now a real harmony developing in this Hearts team. It’s a pity we’ll have to wait a while to try and build on Friday’s victory.