It may not excite, but Michael McGovern is a Hearts signing which makes total sense

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Hearts fans have become increasingly frustrated about the lack of signings so far this summer, as has been evident from the responses to every club announcement on social media.

Frankie McAvoy speaks. “Where are the new signings?” Liam Fox talks about the B team. “Where are the new signings?” Hospitality packages are advertised. “WHERE ARE THE NEW SIGNINGS!?!?”

So it’s fair to say that the addition of Michael McGovern, a 39-year-old goalkeeper who is likely to play as a back-up, wasn’t exactly the kind of move that pacified the demands of those who love and own the club.

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But the only thing negative about this signing, at this moment in time, is the optics. Another goalkeeper was not the most pressing need in the squad, so for that to be the first player in the door, when there’s been a delay on getting anyone else, doesn’t look particularly great.

Michael McGovern became Hearts first signing of the summer, joining on a one-year deal. Picture: SNSMichael McGovern became Hearts first signing of the summer, joining on a one-year deal. Picture: SNS
Michael McGovern became Hearts first signing of the summer, joining on a one-year deal. Picture: SNS

But there is something fans need to understand more, and this is not just Hearts fans I’m talking about but, like, every football fan anywhere – football clubs do not, and should not, sign players throughout the summer in order of priority of positional need. They are putting together a squad to compete across the course of the 2023/24 season and they have until the end of August, still seven weeks away, in order to do that. The most glaring need is a speedy forward to replace Josh Ginnelly. But it would make zero sense to focus solely on that, for a signing to then take ages to get over the line, and then to move on to the next position.

McGovern does fill a void in the Hearts squad, and he does so with no long-term commitment in the form of a one-year contract with an option of another, which we can probably assume belongs to the club. Craig Gordon is not expected back until October or November at the earliest, and at the age of 40 and coming back off a devastating leg injury there’s far from any guarantee he’s going return the same player he was.

Even if he does, that’s a good chunk of the season to be operating with only one goalkeeper who has top-flight experience. Many fans have questioned why there was any need for this move with youngster Harry Stone waiting in the wings. But Stone has yet to play at Premiership level. Yes, youngsters need opportunities to show what they can do, but you can’t chuck an inexperienced goalkeeper into a team for an extended period of time if he’s not ready. Stone has talent, but he needs more experience of playing at the lower levels before he’s ready for Hearts. He’s been on loan four times: once to Spartans, twice to Albion Rovers in the fourth tier, and once to Partick Thistle where he spent the majority of his spell on the bench.

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Though he’s expected to return as early as next week, the injury Zander Clark picked up prior to the friendly match against Dunfermline Athletic outlined the precariousness of the situation to the management team. They’ve now acted accordingly.

McGovern was excellent for Accies in his last spell in the Premiership. He’s older now but he’ll do exactly what he was signed to do: be a reliable back-up.

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