Saturday’s game against St Johnstone wasn’t pretty – in fact it was horrible at times – but ultimately points make prizes and Hearts are picking up a steady flow of points at the moment.
The result is the be all and end all for now, and we found a way to beat a team we hadn’t defeated in seven previous matches. We now come up against another team we haven’t defeated in seven attempts, so we’ll have to be as diligent and concentrated at the back – and also a bit more potent in attack – if we are to beat Hibs.
It doesn’t matter how pretty the football is – no Hearts fan will care if we come away with the ugliest 1-0 win you could imagine. I can’t say I’m hugely confident about winning the game, but I certainly feel confident that we will get a more committed performance than what we showed on our last to Easter Road in February.
I’d like to think that Scottish Cup replay was us bottoming out and hitting a nadir. After being involved in a Hearts team that went 22 games unbeaten and 17 unbeaten against Hibs in my playing days, it felt like the shoe was on the other foot after that game eight months ago. Unbeaten runs are there to be broken, as we’ve shown by finally defeating St Johnstone at the weekend.
I don’t for one minute think any Hearts supporter is expecting us to go down to Easter Road and play Hibs off the park, but it’s entirely reasonable to expect that we get full-on commitment and give ourselves a chance of winning the game. By that, I mean mature commitment, not the type of immature commitment I sometimes showed in derby games.
It’s not always the best players who thrive on derby day – it is usually the most committed. We will need to be particularly strong in the middle of the pitch because in recent derbies, Marvin Bartley has been one of the main men. He isn’t the most talented player around but he is a wholehearted individual and the type that you’d love to have in your team in games like these. From a Hearts perspective, the two players we’re hanging our hat on at the moment are Christophe Berra and John Souttar, and we’re going to be heavily reliant on them if we’re to dig out another result tomorrow.