London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2004-05--> All for 20050507
<-Page <-Team Sat 07 May 2005 Rangers 2 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Glenn Gibbons auth-> Charlie Richmond
[T Buffel 9] ;[M Andrews 42]
9 of 019 Marvin Anthony Andrews og 84 L SPL A

End of suffering in sight for Robertson


Rangers 2
Hearts 1
Referee: C Richmond. Attendance: 49,342

JOHN Robertson may be no Tony Blair, but the two men do seem to have acquired a significant commonality. Like the Prime Minister, the Hearts manager has discovered that, just because you’re in the job, it doesn’t mean you have a future.

Robertson’s distracted, fretful manner in the wake of this defeat at Ibrox gave a powerful hint that his will extend no further than tonight, when the Tynecastle directors are expected to reach a decision on whether or not to retain his services.

At one point, he was overcome by a sudden assertiveness, suggesting that he himself, rather than the board, would determine his immediate prospects. "This was supposed to be discussed by the directors on Friday night and now I understand it’s going to be cleared up on Monday night," said the manager.

"Well, I’ll be having a chat with my fiancee to talk over my own future. I have no further comment to make. Let’s wait and see."

But, when it was put to him that the clear inference to be drawn from his remarks was that he would preempt his removal by voluntary departure, he rushed to denial: "You interpret it as you want. But I have too much respect for the club, my players and staff and the fans to walk away. All I’m saying is I will have a chat with my fiancee over my future."

If there was an impression of uncertainty and confusion in his mind (the immediate aftermath of a narrow defeat is never the right time to expect rationality from a manager), Robertson at least seemed to be aware that, with two years left on his contract, resignation makes no sense whatsoever.

It is impossible to escape the conviction, however, that the Hearts directors’ inconclusive meeting three days ago does not signify a reprieve, but merely a postponement of execution.

If the match at Ibrox does prove to be Robertson’s last as Hearts’ manager, it will be remembered, if at all, as an untidy, wandering performance, rather in keeping with the manager’s situation. There was a slowness, too, about Robertson’s own reactions in the course of an event in which tactical intervention was demanded much earlier than it materialised.

Having decided on a 4-5-1 formation, Lee Miller’s solo striker representing an emphasis on containment, Robertson took what appeared to be an inappropriately long time to respond to his team’s obvious difficulties. When they fell two behind after 34 minutes, there was clearly a need to make modifications that might keep Rangers busy enough in their own half of the field to be less of a consistent menace to Steven Pressley and his fellow defenders.

Yet it was not until the 65th minute that Mark Burchill was summoned from the bench to form a two-man attack with Dennis Wyness, who had replaced Miller - he appeared to be diminished by the after-effects of a wrecking-ball charge from Marvin Andrews early in the game - at the start of the second half.

It may be argued that Rangers had already begun the winding-down process by the time of Burchill’s arrival, but Hearts were much more evident in home territory for those remaining 25 minutes, even forcing the own goal from Andrews - the big defender stretching to deflect Michael Stewart’s free kick past Ronald Waterreus - that brought a nervous last ten minutes for the home team.

Before then, Hearts had shown their expertise in loose, lethargic passing which consistently ceded possession, allowing Rangers the belief that their own ambitions would not encounter stout resistance.

There is little doubt that Alex McLeish’s team’s authority in that first half warranted a handsome lead, but the goals, too, were cheaply bought, one the result of weak defending, the other something of an accident.

Nacho Novo gave a thrilling exhibition of ball skills when he made a run into the left side of the penalty area, feinting past two opponents and reaching the ball just ahead of the rushing Craig Gordon. But it was clear from the moment the little Spaniard dinked the ball over the goalkeeper that it would not have the pace to worry Andy Webster, waiting at the far post.

The Hearts defender, however, seemed to have problems adjusting his feet before sending a feeble "clearance" - like a balloon floating serenely - straight to Thomas Buffel, only five yards away. The Belgian midfielder simply headed it into the unprotected net.

It was from a corner kick on the right that the second goal began. The ball was headed out to Buffel about 20 yards away and his low, powerful drive appeared to be going wide, but was deflected high past Andrews, still on the spot he had occupied in preparation for the original corner kick.

McLeish afterwards lamented the narrowness of the margin of victory, obviously aware that the championship, as in 2003, could be decided on goal difference. But, given his team’s fluctuations of form and results in recent times, he was understandably satisfied to have secured the three points.

"That’s the quirky nature of football," said the Rangers manager. "A team might only play well for five minutes in a match and still take something from it. We’ve dominated 90 per cent of that game and still had a nervous finish. We’ve had an excellent first half, playing at a good tempo, with solid play. But, yes, I did get a little nervous when it went to 2-1. That’s human nature."

Taken from the Scotsman

<-Page <-Team Sat 07 May 2005 Rangers 2 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
| Home | Contact Us | Credits | © 2005 |