Why Hearts are better placed to build on unbeaten start than 2018/19 season as Peter Haring explains Beni Baningime partnership
Three years ago, Peter Haring arrived at Hearts as an unknown Austrian centre-back, one of 20 players signed during the 2018/19 campaign.
He made his debut in a 2-1 win over Cove Rangers in the Betfred Cup as part of a back three which included John Souttar and Christophe Berra.
It wouldn’t be long, however, before he became this dominating force in the centre of the pitch, one of the team’s most valuable players and a fan favourite.
His ability to read the game, win the ball back, start attacks from deep, switch the ball at ease and even score goals was a key reason Hearts started the season with a 13-game unbeaten run.
Fast forward to the present day and Haring has once again been making his presence felt in the midfield with Hearts unbeaten in the league.
He is better placed than most to compare the current vintage to the team who made a strong start to the 2018/19 season.
“They’re very different," he said. “The year I came in we started really well but we hardly knew each other because there were 16 new signings.
"Loads of the boys coming in didn’t know the league very well which was good at the start because we didn’t think too much and we just went out and played.
"When you’re new at the club you don’t feel the pressure from outside so much. I think that helped in our first season.
“Now we have a team that knows the league very well, that has been playing here for a few years. The team this year is more experienced and mature.
"Three years ago we didn’t end the season well enough after such a great start. I’m confident that won’t happen this year.”
Beni and Pete
This time around, instead of Olly Lee he has struck up a combative and fearful partnership with Beni Baningime, the pair formidable against Dundee United and Hibs.
They complement one another. Beni the ball winner, Haring the conductor.
“It’s good," he said when asked what it is like to play with the former Everton ace.
"He’s a very intelligent player who understands the game really well and makes it easy to play with him.
"He’s not the most vocal player, he’s quite calm and relaxed but he’s usually in the right position and you don’t need to worry too much about him.”
Slowly but surely
No Hearts midfielder or forward player plays more passes per 90 minutes than Haring or gets the ball into the final third more frequently.
Slowly but surely he is reaching those 2018 levels and that influence.
"There’s plenty of room for improvement I’d say," he said. “Especially in the last two games we’re getting more confident and better.
"I’m enjoying it.
"The most important thing to me is to get into a rhythm and you only get there with games. If you have quality as a player that doesn’t change after an injury. But you only get that confidence back when you have minutes in your legs. I’m getting that at the moment.
"I’m glad to play all those minutes in the last few weeks and the most important thing is the team is doing well then you can start enjoying your game again.”