Three takeaways from Hearts' hammering at the hands of Rangers at Ibrox
Analysis from Ibrox as Hearts fell to a 5-0 defeat without laying a glove on Rangers.
In the aftermath of Christophe Berra netting Rangers’ third goal, a small group of home fans turned on the visiting support and chanted ‘the Hearts are going down’. There was no doubt some among the hardy Hearts fans who were thinking similar. While Austin MacPhee’s side started confidently, holding a decent shape, there was something inevitable about the opening goal scored by Alfredo Morelos after 11 minutes and the result in general. Hearts just don’t win at Ibrox – just three success stories in 28 since Joe Hamill netted a winner in April 2004. Especially in form such as this. The biggest concern was that for a while such a performance could have been seen as an improvement on the previous week’s defeat to Kilmarnock. On top of that Steven Gerrard’s side barely had to get out of second gear to win it. And win it so comfortably without even a bit of pressure. There were groans and moans from the home fans at the sloppiness shown at times and the lack of intensity. Worryingly, who knows what the score would have been if they were at it for the full 90 minutes.
When Hearts completed the signing of Joel Pereira on loan from Manchester United, fans understandably believed he would be a positive influence, especially after the goalkeeping issues surrounding Colin Doyle and Zdenek Zlamal. The 23-year-old had turned out for the Red Devils, was a Portugal U21 international and had Portuguese top-flight experience. However, he hasn’t quite lived up to the billing. Until Sunday, there hadn’t been many egregious errors but there has been plenty of uncertainty and goals where you question whether he ‘could’ve done better’. In the 3-0 defeat to Kilmarnock last week, he failed to hold a strong position for the opening goal, while the second was headed right above him. At Ibrox he had his worst Hearts performance. He struggled with three goals which were fired in his vicinity, including a tame header he allowed to squirm into the net. In addition, he looked slow to get across to the opener also. Hearts will be looking for a new goalkeeper come the summer. If not January.
There was a moment just before Don Robertson blew for half-time that seemed to encapsulate the frustration and disconnect at Hearts currently. Steven Naismith for the umpteenth time during the first 45 minutes was handing out advice, coaching or simply demands to Uche Ikpeazu. The Englishman, for the first time, visibly responded by having his say, leading to a back and forth. It ended with the Ikpeazu gesturing that he didn’t agree before walking the other way. When the half-time whistle went, Uche marched with purpose up the tunnel. The two are very different characters and there was little connection between them in an attacking sense. Naismith won two or three headers with his excellent timing and spring but on all occasions there was no one near him to pick up on the flick on or knockdown. One moment of promise saw Uche turn the Rangers defence and play a fine through ball for Naismith but the veteran didn’t have the legs to take him away, through on goal. It was about the only time they were on the same wavelength.