A Win-Lose Situation
Three-nil is good in any language but my self-appointed task is to point out the cancerous nature of the sun on a lovely day, the refreshing aspect of rain when it’s pissing down, and basically anything else that may not have struck the average bear. Whether it’s right or wrong, well, that’s not material to the debate.
Not that it’s easy to pick holes, mind, when 3-0 was going on 6. Excellent performances from Maybury, Mahe, Flogel, Simmonds, Juanjo. St Johnstone put in their place – “bottom dogs”, the Pink News intriguingly called them, and not a single cameraman was behind the Hearts goal when the second half started. And then there’s Hibs screwing up against Dundee United, beaten by a Jim Hamilton brace. (I trust, though, no-one is saying “we should never have sold him”) Show what happens when you attack Hibs and put them under pressure. What happens when you believe you can win. But there wasn’t a lot of joy to take away from this 3-0.
We witnessed a sublime attacking performance from Juanjo which gave such mobility to the Hearts team and brought out the best in everyone, especially Flogel who, without Cameron to defer to and Fulton to get in his way, ran the show. Having never rated his effectiveness in the hurly and the burly of the Scottish midfield, he finally had the responsibility placed on him to come up with the goods, and he sure did. Yet what’s the news? Juanjo’s off at the end of the month, and this may well be Flogel’s last season. Finally he gets to be Top Cat (and there were plenty of Officer Dibbles in the Saints’ midfield) and it’s likely to be All Too Late. And for all that Banjo turns off as quickly as he turns it on, one thing that Hearts had this game was width – not just from the wee felly, but the mobility opened up gaps which Mahe and Maybury, good footballers that they are, dutifully ran into.
Hearts will be found out by better sides, no doubt. We’re still flakey in midfield and there’s nothing up front. But we’re better off trying to score a goal or two rather than trying to keep it tight. Pressley’s lack of fitness apart, the back line is looking as good as it’s likely to (how far we have come from Almondvale, brrrr) although the question of McKenna keeps coming up. He was on the bench for this match, which isn’t his best position, and I doubt Levein is going to rotate his defenders. Is it too ridiculous to suggest McKenna could play in front of the back two as a defensive anchor for the midfield? A defence is only as solid as the midfield in front of it. Spookily enough, that was the position Levein used to play in 1984, able to sprint into attacking positions almost as quickly as he could sprint back. He scores goals, too. It wouldn’t necessarily mean dropping Severin (who’s not playing well and worse, acts like he’s not playing well) but might allow Seve to spend more quality time in the opposition’s half. This is all a bit of fancy-thinking, but if we’ve got good players they’re better on the park than off it. And if Juanjo’s on his way (and there’s very little doubt about it) we’re going to be minus one good player very soon.
Up front, however, we’re stuffed. Kirk’s injury might