No-one, but no-one can fathom Jim Jefferies. Against Hibs (and in the important Cup games, against Kilmarnock and Rangers) players have taken the field not with the intention of winning . It's painful to say so, but Hibernian have got themselves a good manager - a not-great player but one who won major-league trophies, so he has the ambition to aim high while sympathising with his fairly-shite players.
Jefferies is a marvellous manager of some situations but others seem to baffle him entirely. In the most recent game against Hibs, not only was the mindset all wrong, he simply didn't put out the personnel to dominate the game. Flogel's suspension was a blow, but Hearts played five defenders, none of whom got out of their own half all day and just got in each other's way. Instead, Tomaschek, with all the balletic grace of a giraffe on skates, was asked to play so close to the shyline that he was in danger of going off the grass. Cameron had far too much on his plate throughout. Wales ran around up front doing nothing, McSwegan didn't even bother running around. Jackson had to wait and hope for someone else to play football before he could create anything. As it was, he created something out of nothing, the best goal scored in a derby for decades, which was lucky, because Hearts hardly had the ball all day. Certainly no passes were put together.
Pass me a glass of wine so I can eat my words, but this was a day we needed Steve Fulton, someone who knows what the game's about - the value of putting your foot on the ball and passing it to someone in maroon. Derbies are competitive and emotional, and Hibs had all the players who understood that. It was a disgraceful display, a tactical fuck-up and a poor attitude shown throughout. I felt sorry for Jackson, the only man with a clue. He deserved better.
At half-time I was giving Davy Allan some serious earache. "This game's going away from us. We need to get substitutes on NOW, while it's still 1-1, not SOON, when it's 2-1 to them" .But Davy very reasonably pointed out that whatever the JJ Meisterplan was, the subbies weren't in on it 'cause they were still out on the field practising putting the ball over the bar. I often think Jefferies has got the memory of a goldfish - every time he sees the opponents make a substitution, he says "Are they allowed to do that? Can we do that?"
Fulton and Adam made comebacks against Aberdeen in midweek, and it made all the difference. But only after an opening ten minutes when Aberdeen could have scored twice, Hearts ran around panicking like headless chickens, trying far too hard to do far too much. Jefferies must have sent them out with his words shuddering around their head. Instead we rode a crested wave of luck, as an easy punt up the park caused a mixup between Leighton and his full-back, and Cameron was in front of an open goal with the ball at his feet. Un-bloody-believable. You get the feeling that Cameron must have saved Leighton's life when they were younger, because he keeps returning favour after favour. Surely the debt's paid now, Jim! Oh maybe not. Keep up the good work.
It wasn't until Wales snatched a second just after the break that Hearts even thought of behaving like winners, and as the confidence started to seep into them, it began to drain away from Aberdeen. I'm fed up that Hearts can't play the football at 0-0 they can when they're leading 2-0. I'm fed up knowing that had Aberdeen got one back, a sleeping sickness would have struck Hearts down like an illness and we'd've employed an eight-man defence, probably to no great effect. It didn't happen, Thank God, and Makel started to play very well indeed, but that was because Fulton had started to play even better and it was he, bless him, who got into the box near the end to knock in a third with his right foot.
Man of the Match: Fulton. "More Pie For That Man, Whoever He Be! " declared my brother. This, coupled with Hibernian's tragic last-minute loss to Dundee the night before, was putting the world back to rights .
Although a lot of people were quick to slag off the 0-0 against Motherwell on the Saturday, it was a very difficult game to win. Motherwell had lost six to Rangers the previous week, and defence became their priority. Usually they fight tooth and claw and hammer and nail in the midfield - they're a dirty bunch of bastards - but this time round, they gave up the midfield and Hearts had a lot of possession but could find no way through. Twice Cameron got into the box, and twice he was brought down, but the referee said No. Television showed he was wrong to say No, but life's like that. Motherwell played to their game plan and had sharp chances on the break, usually gifted them by Petric, but Hearts were undone by a lack of imagination and incision around the penalty box.
Man of the Match: Cameron. It wouldn't have been a good game to lose, remember. And Hibs lost at Kilmarnock, so it's important to see the wider picture.
4) Hearts Win Cup Semi
And finally the good news. The Under 18s got to the Cup Final again, with a decent showing to beat Morton 1-0.
Man of the Match: Goldie.
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