HEARTS manager John McGlynn today took full responsibility for Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to Kilmarnock and apologised to supporters for the team’s performance. He promised his players would fight back from their latest setback and learn from their mistakes as the club attempts to climb the Scottish Premier League.
Paul Heffernan’s hat-trick at Tynecastle consigned Hearts to their eighth consecutive match against Kilmarnock without victory, leaving them tenth in the SPL table and prompting a chorus of boos from the home support at full-time. McGlynn made his squad acutely aware that the display and result were unacceptable in the dressing-room after the match, but he accepted the blame and the criticism which came his way.
“You can understand people’s frustrations. At the end of the day, the buck stops with me,” he told the Evening News. “I’ve got to take the responsibility and that’s it. That’s how it goes. When the going is good, you take the praise. When the going isn’t so good, you take the flak. That comes with the territory.
“Kilmarnock set up well against us and exploited their opportunities. We’re taking our medicine right now, which isn’t very nice. We apologise for the performance, but we will come back fighting. The buck always stops with the manager no matter what the situation is. I’m not one for passing the buck on to anyone else, it’s my responsibility.”
With Jason Holt and Callum Tapping, both 19, accompanied in the centre of Hearts’ midfield by 20-year-old Scott Robinson, McGlynn felt Hearts’ inexperience became a key factor in how the match was played out. He has introduced a host of youth academy players to senior football this season and explained that inconsistency is almost guaranteed with such a young squad.
“You could see that, in the middle of the pitch where we are very young, Kilmarnock had that bit more experience and guile. You have to understand that and relate to that. However, players need to be on the pitch to pick up that experience. I think everyone understands there are inconsistencies. The younger lads have done well in the main, but in games like Saturday’s it becomes difficult.”
With Inverness Caledonian Thistle due to visit Tynecastle this weekend, McGlynn has the task of lifting morale at the Riccarton training ground to prepare his young players for another difficult assignment. “It’s a sore defeat, so that will probably be the case,” he continued. “It wasn’t a narrow defeat as regards the scoreline so it will probably be a bigger task to lift the players this week.”
McGlynn left his charges in no doubt about his disgust following the weekend’s result. “You have to pick and choose your time. No-one’s happy with that performance, that’s for sure. You put your points across, so now we’ll go over the game and we’ll try to learn from it. We are being pro-active in terms of improving.”
Options for change are thin on the ground given the sparse nature of Hearts’ squad, but the manager may need to alter his back line this weekend. The concussion which saw Darren Barr stretchered off against Kilmarnock could render him unavailable for medical reasons, as it can take up to ten days for symptoms to fully subside. That would mean another defensive reshuffle.
Barr deputised for Marius Zaliukas against Kilmarnock, with the Lithuanian’s torn ankle ligaments ruling him out until the end of the season. Dylan McGowan replaced Barr as substitute and could start against Inverness. McGlynn’s only other realistic option would be to shunt Danny Wilson from left-back into his favoured centre-back role and recall Kevin McHattie.
“We don’t have an awful lot of options,” admitted McGlynn. “There are maybe one or two slight changes we can make. We will have a look in the under-20 game on tonight and see who is doing well in that, see if there’s anyone going to push themselves forward for Saturday against Inverness. There is always a chance for anyone who is doing well. I won’t close the door on any player.”