After the way the past two seasons have gone, Hearts could desperately have done with a smooth start to the current campaign.
Unfortunately, it has been anything but.
We’ve had another major turnover of players, which can’t be conducive to continuity and developing a genuine team spirit. If Vladimir Romanov had presided over Hearts’ recent transfer activity, we would be wondering what was going on.
I think many supporters are slightly sceptical about our prospects for the season ahead, but as has been shown by strong season-ticket sales, they will continue to give their loyal backing and hope that the new-look team can finally deliver a style of football and a level of consistency we can be satisfied with.
Unfortunately, things haven’t got off to the greatest of starts on that front. With the pressure on following the fielding of an ineligible player which could leave us losing the points from our victory over Cove Rangers, I would have expected a determined, fired-up Hearts display against Raith Rovers. What we got was a flat uninspiring performance and a result that leaves us staring at potential elimination from the competition if the powers-that-be decide to dock us points today.
I have to admit, because Andy Irving entered the field of play as opposed to remaining as an unused substitute, I’ll be very surprised if we avoid a points deduction. We can only hope they go easy on us as because another group stage exit would be calamitous, both in terms of the vibe around the club and the loss of a potential revenue stream at a time when we are clearly throwing a good bit of money at adding depth to the squad. We obviously have a lot of players now and the danger is that we now have too many to maintain squad harmony. I think any manager would struggle to keep everybody happy when there are so many players at the club unlikely to play regularly.
We’ve lost our way badly in recent seasons after a positive start to our post-administration era.
Due to a clerical error and a dismal performance against a lower-league team, we now find ourselves facing a critical week as we look to show a genuine readiness to get back on track in what is the fifth season since we kicked off our rebuild.