READING between the lines, Paulo Sergio appears to envisage Adrian Mrowiec playing at least some part in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final. The Hearts manager faces several key decisions before naming his team to face Hibs at Hampden Park and Mrowiec is clearly in his thoughts.
Sergio gave the Polish midfielder 90 minutes against Celtic on Sunday which might be significant. He had not played since March 10 due to a knee injury and is surplus to Hearts’ requirements for next season. It would have been easy to let him drift off into the sunset. However, Sergio chose to give Mrowiec a full game before the final, resisting any temptation to substitute him despite an uncertain opening period at Parkhead.
The Portuguese coach views Mrowiec as something of an insurance policy in the defensive midfield role, although Darren Barr has performed admirably there in Mrowiec’s absence. Sergio will choose one to start at Hampden, with the other likely to be on the substitutes’ bench.
“We can only have 16 players involved so everyone wants to show the manager that they should play,” Mrowiec told the Evening News. “It’s a very hard game for us so everyone wants to play, everyone wants to be in the squad. I feel okay now after my injury. I have power and I can run without any problems. I played for 90 minutes against Celtic and I didn’t have any problem.”
Sergio’s admiration for Mrowiec began virtually from the moment the Portuguese arrived at Tynecastle last August. “If I have to mention one player, I have to talk about Adrian Mrowiec,” he said after his debut match as manager against Paksi SE. “Before the game he had a fever of 38 degrees but he sacrificed himself for the team. That’s the guys I love. That’s the kind of guy we need to be successful.”
By November, he was still singing the midfielder’s praises. “Without Mrowiec our team is more exposed, with him we are stronger in the midfield,” he said after the 2-1 home win over Inverness. “We lost the ball too much in the first half so Adrian was brought on to make us more safe and secure. It was a tactical decision and we played better in the second half.”
That affection could see the 28-year-old given an opportunity to bid farewell to Hearts on the most high-profile occasion. “I like Edinburgh and I like Hearts,” said Mrowiec. “It’s a fantastic stadium with fantastic supporters. I hope the last game of the season is the biggest game for the club, the fans and the city. I’ve had a great time in Edinburgh, my family likes it here, my daughter is at school and I have so many friends here. I will miss it. Maybe one day I can come back.” All the eulogising prompts the question of why Mrowiec is leaving. If some were surprised at the news Hearts were not renewing his contract, the player was not among them. “I was prepared for leaving because I heard something two weeks before it happened,” he explained. “One of the directors said I would probably have to leave the club. They were waiting for some decision. To me, it wasn’t a big surprise.
“Hearts is the biggest club I have played for in my career. I will never forget this. The Scottish league is a good league. I want to thank the people who brought me here and I want to thank Paulo for continuing to play me. At the moment I am preparing for the cup final. On Monday I go back to Poland and start to think about my future. Some agents called me but agents talk too much sometimes. They can offer you Barcelona at times, you now what agents can be like. Right now I don’t have another club.
“It’s not easy for me. I will go on holiday and I don’t know what happens afterwards. My contract at Hearts is finished at the end of May. I am wondering where I will be next season.”