Hearts in 2022: Five reasons to be optimistic

Hearts supporters are entitled to an optimistic outlook for 2022 as their club prospers on and off the field.

Monday, 3rd January 2022, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 3rd January 2022, 10:03 am
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson will replenish his squad in January.

New signings will arrive to strengthen a team sitting third in the cinch Premiership with the prospect of European football later this year. All of which is overseen by fans themselves following Foundation of Hearts’ share transfer last year. Here are five things Jambos can look forward to:

NATHANIEL ATKINSON

The Australian right-back is due in from Melbourne City as soon as his UK work permit is approved. He is rated as one of the most promising emerging talents in Australia and represented his country at the Olympics in Japan. His energy and attacking instincts make him ideal for the right wing-back role in Hearts’ 3-4-3 formation. If Atkinson, 22, can establish himself as first-choice in that position, the versatile Michael Smith could be utilised in midfield or central defence in future. Young Cammy Logan and Jamie Brandon may therefore need to move on loan to play regularly.

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Right wing-back Nathaniel Atkinson is set to join Hearts from Melbourne City. Picture: Getty

NEW FORWARD

It might be one, potentially two, but there is no doubt Hearts will strengthen their attack before the transfer window closes at the end of the month. Advances have been made towards the Japanese forward Tsuyoshi Ogashiwa but he is still with Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo for now. With Armand Gnanduillet on the way out this month, another recognised centre-forward would seem essential to provide competition for top goalscorer Liam Boyce.

FANS BACK AT TYNECASTLE

This may well be the most appealing aspect of 2022. No-one knows exactly how long the Scottish Government’s crowd limits will last but they are expected to extend beyond the initial three-week period. That will cause more frustration among supporters eager to back their team as they continue pushing for European qualification. Players and coaches at Hearts are similarly keen for fans to return to stands as soon as possible. One of the team’s main advantages over rivals is a full and boisterous Tynecastle Park.

Hearts fans can look forward to 2022 with confidence.

FoH OWNERSHIP GAINING MOMENTUM

Foundation of Hearts became outright owners of Heart of Midlothian in August, making the club the biggest fan-owned establishment in British football. FoH reorganised their board just two weeks ago at their annual general meeting in preparation for a new era. New directors were elected as former Irish FA chief executive Gerry Mallon and IT expert Andrew Brown joined to help steer the group into the future. They have largely remained in the background until now but must now take a more front-facing and interactive position with their 8,700 members.

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL?

This one is still an ‘if’ with 18 Premiership fixtures still to play between now and May. However, Hearts are well placed to achieve a place in the Europa Conference League qualifying rounds as it stands. They lie third in the league table with a five-point advantage over Motherwell in fourth. No-one at Tynecastle will be resting on laurels, least of all manager Robbie Neilson and his coaching staff, but if offered this position back in July they would have seized it with both hands. Come the summer it will be six years since Hearts’ last European adventure – Neilson was in charge back then as well – so fans are overdue some Continental sojourns to add to their memories.

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