JAMIE MacDONALD would love nothing better than to see Gary Glen kick-start his career with Ross County – but the Hearts keeper hopes his good friend has a day to forget on his Tynecastle return this afternoon.
The duo, who came through the ranks together at Riccarton, were best of mates as MacDonald used to run Glen to training on a daily basis until he passed his driving test. As a result, he saw at close quarters how the little striker – compared to John Robertson when he first burst on to the scene – gradually became sapped of confidence as his relationship with former manager Csaba Laszlo deteriorated.
Despite a striker shortage at Hearts over the past few years, Glen was never able to re-establish himself and it was little surprise when he moved on in the summer, with County offering him the chance to revive his career. He has featured in each of the Dingwall side’s last five games, with the highlight coming last weekend when he set up the winner against Hibs.
As Glen and his colleagues head to Tynecastle for the first-ever league meeting between the sides, MacDonald extolled the virtues of a player he feels can still emerge as a fine SPL striker when he rediscovers his confidence. “I still speak to Gary, we’re very friendly. He is desperate to score and get the one-upmanship on me. I was speaking to him during the week and he was saying I was going to score against you blah blah, the usual stuff.
“Gary is an excellent player, he has good movement, he is good with both feet. He is a very good finisher and quite an intelligent player. Like a lot of players here, it was when Csaba was here and he probably didn’t quite get the chances he deserved at that time. He came in and did very well and I don’t know if Csaba didn’t quite fancy him and he didn’t get his chance again. Then we bring other players in.
“He left to go out and get regular football. There become a point when you need to play week-in, wee-out and I think he set up the winner last week.
“I was his taxi to training when he was here but he eventually past his driving test. For a good few years I was his taxi driver so he owes me a fortune.
“It’ll be good to see him and play against him but hopefully we can keep a clean sheet and get the win.”
After an indifferent start to the season, MacDonald is hoping Hearts can put a positive complexion on their campaign by following up last weekend’s win over Motherwell with victory over County today, and then progressing to the semi-finals of the League Cup at the expense of Dundee United on Wednesday night.
“It’s been a strange season for us,” he acknowledged. “Our performances haven’t merited the results we’ve been getting. Even last weekend we didn’t play at our best but we got the result through a gritty performance. Let’s hope we can start picking up more points. Just look at St Johnstone, five games in a row and they are now second top after having about two points after four games. Everyone can beat everyone and hopefully we can start pushing up the table. It will be hard against Ross County because they have been excellent in the SPL. They started with clean sheets galore and now they seem to be the entertainers in the league. They have a lot of experienced SPL players.”
MacDonald knows there is a general air of negativity surrounding Hearts at present, but he believes the share issue launched this week – the club are putting around ten per cent of its shares on sale with the intention of raising £1.79 million – has to be seen as a positive.
“I think it’s a good thing and it gives the fans more of a say in the club,” he said. “Ten per cent is quite a lot. The club is easily targeted sometimes. Even with the recent pay issue, don’t get me wrong, we got paid late, but it was two or three days late. It was not the same as last year when it was weeks and weeks.
“This year it’s different but fair play to the club, we have been paid within a few days of the wage date and the club is working to their turnover which is a massive thing. Clubs have to do that not. In the past we’ve had a lot of funding from UBIG and I suppose taken it for granted a bit. Now, and not just us with these UEFA fair play rules, you have to work to your turnover and it’s about implementing that.”