A FEELING of melancholy engulfed Tynecastle at full-time on Saturday as Hearts’ defeat to St Mirren hit home. Perhaps the most dejected man in the entire stadium was Scott Robinson, who was hauled off at half-time for the second game running.
After an impressive start to the season, the diminutive midfielder openly admits his confidence has now gone.
Robinson feels he is becoming an easy target when manager Gary Locke wants to freshen up his team during games. The 21-year-old has started all 11 Hearts matches this season, but been substituted in six of them. His frustration is starting to show.
“I thought I started the season pretty well,” Robinson told the Evening News. “The two home games against Hibs and Aberdeen were good games and I thought I played well at Ross County. I put my hand up and admit that last week [against Dundee United] I wasn’t in the game at all. I made a few errors and it was one of those days for me. I was really poor in that game.
“On Saturday there, I think it was a case of ‘I’ll just pick on him again and take him off’. I didn’t think I was the poorest out of the midfield four. It’s just been me on the day. Obviously, my confidence is really low now again. It’s just the case that, if things are going wrong, I probably know that it will be me coming off. That’s just the way it is. I just need to hope things are going well for the team or I’ll be first to come off.
“I’ve just got to try and be as positive as I can and, I suppose, believe in myself. If it’s not going well for the team, I can’t be the one to have a good game just by myself. We need to play well as a team and, if we aren’t, I just feel that I’ll be the one to come off. I admit I was by far the worst last week but I didn’t think I was the worst on Saturday.”
Robinson has played beside Jamie Hamill as a holding midfielder for most of the campaign so far. Although not unhappy with his position in the side, he stressed he would like to attack more.
“The position is fine for me, as long as I get to go forward as well. I don’t want to just sit for the whole game,” he continued. “Sitting in front of the back four is not my game. I like to break forward and link up the play with Holty [Jason Holt] and the wingers. I like getting into advanced positions instead of getting the ball deep and playing it from side to side. It just depends how the game is going. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve just not been able to get forward.
“We’re in training each day this week until Wednesday and then we have a wee break. I’ll take a bit of time off and then come back and work hard to try and keep my place, although I doubt that will happen now.”
Another issue irking Robinson is Hearts’ style of play, for he feels they are best suited to a possession game and is not a fan of the more direct approach taken against St Mirren on Saturday.
“St Mirren did a good job on the day and fully deserved their three points. I thought we did well in the first ten or 15 minutes, but apart from that we just never showed up at all.
“They have done a good job on us, but we’ve really got to be braver and just try to play football. We were playing percentages at times and that’s not going to be good enough to pick up points and get us out of the situation we’re in. We could build up our play a bit more instead of just going longer into channels and just hoping for throw-ins and stuff. Fair enough, that can get you up the pitch at times, but it’s not going to work for the whole game.
“As I’ve said before, I think we’re a better team if we do pass it and move it. Going in behind isn’t a bad ball, but to do that all the time makes it like pinball. In centre midfield, you’re just playing for second balls and it’s a bit scrappy. It’s not great, to be honest.
“I think Jim Goodwin won nearly every ball that came into his area and we played right into his hands. The ball was dropping into Paul McGowan’s feet and I think we were too deep at the back. Who do you put the blame on? Are we not tight enough to McGowan? Is the defence not pushing up enough? I just feel we had to regroup and look a different tactics.”
Robinson has plenty time to stew on the issues above with club football now on a two-week break whilst World Cup qualifiers take precedence. Thereafter, Hearts face two more crucial fixtures in their fight against relegation at Fir Park and Rugby Park. “You would’ve wanted to go into the international break with a win and sitting six points behind St Mirren,” said Robinson. “We’re back to a ten-point gap so we’ve just got to regroup, take each game as it comes and try to get results again. It’s going to be hard, but we need to pick ourselves up. The next two games are massive. Our away form isn’t good at all and both Rugby Park and Fir Park are hard places to go. We’ve got to go there and try to pick up points. We can’t just keep falling further behind now or this task will just become even harder. We need to get our first points on the road.”