Five biggest Hearts talking points of 2020
The St Mirren defeat
Before we get onto what felt like a never-ending circus between April and September, we must begin in March and Hearts undoubtedly failing to turn up in what would ultimately prove to be one of their biggest games in years. A 2-0 victory would have seen Hearts rise off the bottom of the table and they wouldn't have been victims of the farce that was to come. But instead a team that had recently defeated Hibs and Rangers were awful in Paisley and ultimately fortunate to only lose by one goal.
Voting, relegation, reconstruction, statements, court cases etc
The entire article could have been about off-field matters so let's condense it all into one "talking point". The SPFL decided that it was impossible to finish the 2019/20 season and that it was imperative the 2020/21 campaign started on time. A vote was passed in which the clubs disagreed, only for one team to change their mind and find they agreed after all once they discovered they were in a position of power – weird, that. Owner Ann Budge was tasked with finding a solution via reconstruction, which was also voted down. Legal action followed but ultimately fell short too and Hearts’ status as a Championship side was confirmed.
Stendel out, Neilson in
Though he ultimately failed in his remit to keep Hearts up, Daniel Stendel was popular with the Hearts support and most fans would have liked him to be given the chance to manage the team this term. In the end, though, the board made the pragmatic decision to return to Robbie Neilson and ask him to do the same job he'd performed at both Hearts in this first spell and Dundee United last season. A quick check of the Scottish Championship table indicates it was a very good choice.
Beating Hibs at Hampden
Neilson's popularity has also been helped in large part thanks to the events of Halloween evening. The head coach got over the Hibs hoodoo from his first spell in charge by inflicting the same type of pain which he felt in 2016 by handing out a defeat to the other half of Edinburgh despite them being in a division above. He even deserves huge credit for his tactics on the day, picking a team that initially battled Hibs well and then making a couple of canny substitutions when the pre-match favourites were starting to get on top of things. Unfortunately the day also brought the tragic news of the death of former captain Marius Zaliukas at the age of 36.
The Scottish Cup final
A tumultuous year came so close to ending on a blissful high as Hearts faced Celtic as 9/1 underdogs, went 2-0 and 3-2 behind but showed tremendous heart to fight back and come within two penalty kicks of winning the famous trophy for the first time in eight years. Losing on spot-kicks must be about the most heartbreaking way to be defeated in a final, though the Tynecastle support, all watching at home due to lockdown measures, were immensely proud of their team as they left everything out on the Hampden turf.