BILLY BROWN admits that Hearts supporters have yet to see the best of Mehdi Taouil, but he believes that the Moroccan could be one of the shining lights for the Jambos this season.
The former Hearts assistant manager has worked with Taouil before, at Kilmarnock, and reckons that the midfielder has been unfortunate not to feature on more occasions for the Tynecastle side.
Brown was number two to Jim Jefferies at Rugby Park when they signed the French-born player so can vouch for the ability that he possesses but, since moving to Hearts, feels that Taouil has lacked opportunities in his favoured position in the middle of the park.
Brown knows that new Jambos manager John McGlynn has options in that area – Ryan McGowan for one – but says that Taouil’s experience could still come in handy for the Tynecastle club over the coming months.
Brown said: “I would like to see Mehdi involved a bit more but I think the problem has been finding the best way to use him.
“Jim and I always thought that he was better in a forward area where he could hurt people, rather than sitting a bit deeper.
“The role that Ryan McGowan is playing in right now is maybe the best for Mehdi. Obviously I’m not suggesting that you leave Ryan out, he’s a great guy and someone who is doing really well right now after a good season last season.
“But from my point of view Mehdi should be in the team and if there’s any way that things can be moved around a bit to accommodate him then it would add a lot of experience to the team. The Hearts supporters definitely haven’t seen the best of him yet.”
Club owner Vladimir Romanov has said that he will not be investing in new players and that McGlynn will have to cut his cloth to suit, focusing mainly on the youth players who are already on their books.
And while Hearts fans would love to see their midfield strengthened, Brown expects McGlynn to use any money that does come his way before the transfer window closes at the end of this month to go on a frontman to support John Sutton, who ploughed a lone furrow at Easter Road on Sunday.
Brown added: “They have stated that they are going to go down the road of promoting more of the young boys and there’s not going to be a lot of money.
“Anything he does get, I think that John will be looking to strengthen up front because, at the moment, John Sutton is the only striker that they have got.
“Ideally, he might have wanted to strengthen elsewhere but, if they can get a striker in, then I think he will be settle for that.
“If Sutton got injured, for instance, there would only be Gordon Smith left really. There are still a lot of hard games to come in this league, we’re only just at the beginning, and there are going to be a lot of injuries and suspensions and different things happen over the course of the season.”
Following on from last season’s resounding victory in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden, many were predicting a repeat of that rout at Easter Road yesterday. However a share of the spoils was little surprise for Brown, who was working as a television pundit.
He added: “I predicted a draw on TV. I think everyone knew that Hearts were going to miss Ian Black. If you look back through the records you’ll see that he has done well in almost every derby in recent times.
“In general the Hearts players will be disappointed with their performance but the fact that they didn’t win doesn’t mean that everything is doom and gloom. We’re only two games into the season, they’ve won one and drawn one.
“They will obviously want to bounce back as quickly as possible but I think that they will be one of the better sides this season.
“Hearts were certainly disappointing on the day, there’s no doubt about it. There was little creativity on show and the two wide men - who probably looked as though would one of their biggest threats before the game – didn’t cause too many problems. To be fair, I think that a lot of that was down to the game that Tim Clancy had. He got a grip of David Templeton quite early on in the game and that set the tone really.
“James McPake handled John Sutton well and there wasn’t much in the way of creativity in the middle of the park as a whole.
“I know that John McGlynn would have been disappointed but he’ll just be looking forward to next weekend now and the chance to get three points.”