What an excellent way to start 2012. The players have done themselves proud with the way they’ve gone about their business in recent weeks and they deserve all the credit going for this wonderful four-game unbeaten run.
This fine form doesn’t disguise the fact the club is still very much at a crossroads, but the players and management have shown magnificent character and professionalism, and given the fans some great results to enjoy throughout what has been a really trying time for everyone connected with Hearts.
Hearts were dominant in the first half yesterday but didn’t start the second half quite so well. In the end, though, we ran out worthy winners and I don’t think even the most fervent Hibs supporter could argue otherwise.
The manager, again, has to take a lot of credit for the way things worked out. I was hoping to see John Sutton get on at some point and the manager got him on at just the right time to make a big contribution in setting up the two goals, while Rudi Skacel also made a sensational impact off the bench with his goal.
I hope that doesn’t prove to be a parting gift from Rudi, but if indeed it does turn out to be, what a great way it will be for all Hearts fans to remember him by.
I don’t like to single out Ian Black because everyone knows I represent him and it probably looks like I’m being biased but I don’t think anyone could argue with the fact that he was outstanding yesterday, as he has been over the past few games.
If you can handle a derby atmosphere allied to the intimidating antics Blackie was subjected to by some of the Hibs players, then I think you can handle anything.
To put up with all that, and miss a penalty but still come back and produce a quality display says a lot about the boy. The pass he played to put in Andrew Driver late on was just exquisite.
There were a lot of good performances from Hearts players, though. Andy Webster did really well again and I have to give credit to Jamie Hamill. I was in the Wheatfield Stand near where he got injured against Motherwell and it looked like a bad one, but for him to make sure he was fit and ready for yesterday’s game shows he has a great attitude and just wants to play football. Those are the type of guys you want in your team when you’re going through a difficult time.
You could see by the reaction of the players at the end that everyone is together and I think that’s been evident throughout the last few games. I heard Paulo Sergio on the radio afterwards and I was impressed with how passionately he spoke. It must be so difficult for the manager. He’s already lost Eggert Jonsson and Ryan Stevenson and now, just as it looks like the team is beginning to click into gear, he’ll probably have to lose some more key men this month.
If players do leave in their droves, there will be have to be a collective realism from the Hearts support that the form we’ve shown in taking ten points from our last four games would be very hard to replicate.
We now have a real David and Goliath tie against Auchinleck Talbot on Saturday which gives us a chance to get off and running in the Scottish Cup and maintain our momentum. If we can extend this impressive run, it will bode well for keeping things on track when we come out the other end of January.
Having said that, though, it will only bode well if we don’t lose too many players. Regardless of how many wins we have behind us, we need to hope we can come out of January with good professionals along the lines of Hamill, Black and Webster still at the club in order to guide the young players.
After all, Hibs are currently finding to their cost what can happen if you don’t have enough leaders in your ranks.
I’m hoping there won’t be too many changes in terms of personnel between now and the end of the month, but in the meantime, at least the players and the manager have given us another brilliant result against our city rivals to savour.