HEARTS majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov is encouraged by the quality of football being produced under manager Paulo Sergio, however, he again questioned Scottish referees today and admitted he expected another fine for indiscipline come the end of the season.
Romanov believes decisions given against Hearts are unfair and heralded their continental style of play as a break from the norm in the SPL. He addressed his players before Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Celtic and then watched them deliver an impassioned, powerful display against the Glasgow club.
“After the win over Celtic, the newspapers were writing about me encouraging the players,” said Romanov. “In my opinion, I encouraged and supported the manager in his efforts to produce European-quality football rather than a glorified fight which is being sold as football.
“At the last game against St Johnstone, our opponents were not punished for their frequent fouls from the beginning. Throughout that game St Johnstone made 17 fouls and received three yellow cards, whereas we committed ten fouls and received four bookings.”
The Scottish Football Association have fined Hearts for poor on-field discipline for the last seven consecutive seasons. Romanov said he expects the same routine punishment again come May. “The game that is forced upon us, at times, appears to be without rules and we are not going to support it – even if we end up bottom of the league table,” he told the Hearts website.
“How can players be motivated to play games like this, and how can fans be interested to watch them? At the end of the season we will be the ones landed with the bill, not the referees.”
Meanwhile, Hearts goalkeeper Marian Kello is hoping to return to training before the end of the week after taking an injection to help cure his shoulder injury. The Slovakian has been sidelined since August’s victory over Hibs and is grateful for the international break to proceed with his recovery.
“It’s five weeks from the injury and I was getting pain all the time and not getting better,” he said. “A week back I got some injections in the shoulder and I’ve started to do some strengthening stuff. I think on Thursday I could train with the team which would be great for me.
“I remember straight after the [Hibs] game I went to play with my national team. We were consulting with the doctors and they thought just a couple of days. Obviously, it took much more and I was really surprised. It was a very frustrating time. It’s good to have some time now to train. We have a friendly game on Saturday and I think I can get a game and get my fitness back.”
Kello’s absence has seen Jamie MacDonald deliver a series of impressive displays in goal, with Janos Balogh also given game time in the recent League Cup tie with Ayr United. But Kello, when fully fit, intends to regain his status as first-choice goalkeeper.
“I’ve been here for three years with these guys and I know what they can do. It’s no surprise what they do,” said Kello. “Sunday was a very good game, we played really well and I think and we didn’t make any big mistakes. Jamie made a couple of good saves and I think we deserved the victory.”
* HEARTS teenager Jason Holt has earned a late call-up to the Scotland Under-21 squad for the European Championship qualifiers against Luxembourg and Austria. Injuries left coach Billy Stark short of players and promoted Under-19 star Holt.