Hearts aim to catch Celtic cold at Tynecastle with Ange Postecoglou's Parkhead rebuild still in early stages
Hearts intend to exploit Celtic’s transitional period under new manager Ange Postecoglou and seize on any opposition weakness at Tynecastle Park this Saturday.
The cinch Premiership begins with Postecoglou’s league debut in Edinburgh as Robbie Neilson’s side rejoin the top flight. A 6-2 friendly defeat by West Ham United and a 1-1 draw with Danish club Midtjylland in the Champions League qualifying rounds indicates Celtic are still adjusting to their new coach.
Hearts, meanwhile, enjoyed four wins from four Premier Sports Cup ties without conceding a single goal. Captain Craig Gordon is on a record-breaking 11-game run of competitive clean sheets and believes now is an opportune time to confront his former club.
“Yeah, why not? It’s probably good to get them as early as possible, really,” said the goalkeeper. “They are trying to rebuild currently and hopefully we can try and catch them a little bit early in the season.
“We know that’s going to be a really difficult task and we will need to play to the very best of our abilities. We got close and nearly beat them in the last cup game we played and we will give it our best shot.”
Gordon is confident Celtic will sort out their defensive issues. Goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas – Gordon’s £4.5million replacement – endured heavy criticism this month and it remains to be seen if he keeps his place at Tynecastle.
“I’m not taking too much notice of it to be honest. There’s been more than enough games here to keep us busy,” said Gordon on events in Glasgow’s east end. “There’s been a lot to focus on having the captaincy here so I’ve not been looking too much other than trying to get ourselves ready for the start of the season.
“I’m sure they will sort whatever out. They will always be able to sign new players because they have the money and the means to do that.
“I’m sure they will be looking to add before the end of the window and there may be some looking to move out. You just never know. That’s up to them. We will concentrate on ourselves and try and be as ready as we can.”
A trip to Tynecastle is no easy start for Postecoglou. “No, and hopefully we get as many fans in as possible because that’s what makes this place special. That’s what makes it very difficult for other teams to come and get results. If the fans are here and backing us it makes a huge difference, no matter who we are playing,” said Gordon.
“We want to get our fans back and behind the team and supporting us. It makes a difference in this ground and in this league. Hopefully we can put on a good performance for them and show that everyone is willing to chase every ball. If we show them we are willing to give them every we have got I’m sure we will make them happy and get results.”
The 38-year-old is excited at leading Hearts out against his old team. “I’m looking forward to being back in the Premiership and to lead Hearts out is going to be a special moment. Hopefully we some tickets and my family can come to watch. It will be a great occasion.”