The most pleasing thing to come from Hearts’ Betfred Cup campaign so far is that after building a resolute defence last season, it now looks like we have a good supply of goals throughout the team.
Indeed, that looks like it will be the case even if Kyle Lafferty leaves. We look to have a threat from various areas which wasn’t the case for long periods of last season, and that should make a real difference to our prospects this term. We’ve lacked creativity in midfield and out wide in recent seasons but hopefully that’s changing now because we’re getting goals from crosses, and hopefully the likes of Olly Lee and Arnaud Djoum, when he’s fit, will ensure we have some spark about us in the middle. Uche Ikpeazu has made a particularly big impact so far. Hearts supporters are always looking for a hero and he certainly looks like he could become one as time goes on.
I feel like the squad is now in a position where we could cope with the potential departure of Lafferty. I can understand why Rangers are looking at him because he’s a proven goalscorer in the Scottish Premiership, but I think Hearts are perfectly right to hold out for a figure that is more commensurate with the quality of player and the number of goals he brings. He would obviously be a miss if he goes, but sometimes being reliant on one person to get the majority of your goals isn’t as good as having several different players around the pitch who can all chip in with a slightly lesser number and bring a better balance. Looking at the summer recruitment and the number of goals we’ve scored in our last two games, it certainly looks like we’re going to have more goals in the team this season.
I’m delighted we’ve managed to get through the group stage after the way things started. I still think we were a bit fortunate only to have been deducted two points instead of three, but, on the field, ultimately, we’ve played well in three of our four matches and done enough to get through, which was the primary aim from the outset. Regardless of what happens with Kyle Lafferty in the coming days, we can now head to Hamilton for our Premiership opener on Saturday in upbeat mood.