London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Paul Kiddie auth-> Charlie Richmond
[T Buffel 9] ;[M Andrews 42]
11 of 019 Marvin Anthony Andrews og 84 L SPL A



THE mixed message emanating from a beleaguered John Robertson at Ibrox illustrated the inner turmoil the Hearts boss is enduring.

It was thought all the uncertainty over his future was going to be cleared up at a board meeting on Friday night, with chairman George Foulkes arguing strongly in favour of the Gorgie legend remaining in the hot seat for next season.

However, the soap opera which this has become appears to have at least another episode to run with the boardroom apparently split and further deliberations set for today.

Hearts’ failure to provide any sort of backing for their manager in the wake of the Tynecastle summit, which went on late into the evening, cast further doubt over Robertson continuing in the post he accepted just six months ago.

The current situation is in stark contrast to the noises emanating from within the club last week which indicated the outcome of his review would see the manager granted the extra time he craved to prove himself.

The ongoing state of limbo has provoked fury among supporters, who are now fearing the worst for Robbo with Lithuanian owner Vladimir Romanov and his Gorgie associates apparently at odds with Foulkes’ opinion of Craig Levein’s successor.

Ever since the Baltic millionaire completed his protracted takeover of Chris Robinson earlier this year, there have been suspicions that the new regime were always intent on having their own man at the helm.

The spectre of Anatoly Byshovets has never been too far away from Tynecastle, while Terry Venables, Dick Advocaat and former Latvia boss Gary Johnston have all been linked with Robertson’s job in recent weeks.

While the club has vigorously denied approaching anyone, the man himself appears to have had a bellyfull after his reference on Saturday to the ongoing "circus".

In the minutes leading up to kick-off at Ibrox, the Jambos chief revealed on national radio that he actually thought about quitting three weeks ago, presumably after his side’s defeat to Dundee United at Tannadice all but scuppered a return passage into the UEFA Cup.

The Euro dream was finally killed off with last week’s stalemate at home to Motherwell, the 0-0 draw leaving the Gorgie outfit with nothing but pride to play for in the remaining three matches.

Having watched his team go down 2-1 to Rangers, Robertson was asked if he thought he would be in charge for the visit of Celtic this weekend.

"This has been dragging on and I’ll be having a long chat with my fiancee to decide on my own future perhaps," he said.

Pressed on whether that meant he would jump before being pushed, he added: "You can interpret it any way you want but I’d never walk away from Hearts. I have too much respect for the football club, my players and the fans to do that.

"When new owners come in there is always going to be some uncertainty. That’s life. I’ve got a job to do and have been doing it to the best of my ability since I arrived and as I have said before I don’t think we’ve had a bad season. I would never walk away from Hearts in any shape or form. We have a match against Celtic on Sunday which we have to prepare for and out of respect for the club, my players and the fans, I’ll be there ready to go again this week to make sure the players have somebody in charge."

Contrary to the official statement released by Hearts on Friday night, Robertson denied he had requested the board review his position sooner than originally scheduled. However, he did stress he had a perfectly sound working relationship with his bosses.

"George Foulkes came into my office last week and said he was going to request Friday’s discussion so I think there has been a bit of a misinterpretation," he said.

"I attended the board meeting on Friday and gave the board my list of potential targets and the players who could potentially be leaving the club. The directors will have discussed that after I left.

"Phil Anderton has been very supportive since he came to the club as chief executive and has been handling most of the negotiations so there’s no problem there at all.

"I haven’t seen Mr Romanov for months but when he has been here our relationship has been great."

Whether that relationship is good enough to save Robertson’s job or not is open to conjecture.

The intense speculation surrounding the Hearts boss’s future rendered events on the park on Saturday almost secondary.

The visitors’ day didn’t get off to the best of starts with traffic congestion in Glasgow meaning the team bus required a police escort to get them to Ibrox just 45 minutes before kick-off.

A handful of the players who could be moving on in the summer were involved from the start - Lee Miller, Joe Hamill and Michael Stewart - it was the latter’s first start since Boxing Day against Celtic and he needs time which he doesn’t have to rediscover his passing game.

Miller was left shaken after a typically full-blooded challenge from Marvin Andrews in the opening seconds, the in-form striker failing to appear for the second half after suffering concussion.

By the time his team-mates joined him in the dressing-room, they were 2-0 and facing a mountain to climb to get back into things.

Hearts had got off to the worst possible start when Thomas Buffel headed home Andy Webster’s goal-line clearance after just eight minutes and although Craig Gordon saved brilliantly from Dado Prso 20 minutes later, the keeper was helpless to prevent Marvin Andrews adding second as the interval approach.

Steven Pressley’s clearing header fell to Buffel and his shot seemed to be heading out when the outstretched leg of the former Livingston defender directed the ball behind the Scotland star.

Despite having pushed Rangers to the wire in their two previous meetings and having won a year ago in Govan, in the first half the Jambos had the look of team who didn’t believe they could beat the Glasgow giants. The best they could come up with was a couple of free-kicks from Paul Hartley which Ronald Waterreus dealt with comfortably.

They made more a fight of it after the break but did little with their improved possession to unduly worry their hosts.

That was until the 81st minute when Andrews put through his own net in attempting to clear Hartley’s free-kick into the area.

Buffel had earlier hit the bar and substitute Steven Thompson did likewise 60 seconds after Hearts’ goal. But, with just the one-goal advantage, Rangers were always going to see out the game on a knife-edge, Stephen Simmons almost rescuing an unlikely point for the Jambos when he lashed a left-foot shot over the top from a good position six minutes from time.

"The circus which is going on at the moment meant circumstances weren’t ideal going into the Rangers game," said Robertson.

"But we were professional, worked hard all week to prepare for the match but in the first half there wasn’t enough belief that we could win. We didn’t close Rangers down in the right areas or pass the ball in the right areas. The players were told in no uncertain terms at half-time that they had to improve and they did that.

"We were livelier and looked more dangerous. We got a goal back and suddenly there was a bit of a panic for Rangers. Stephen Simmons and Steven Pressley came close so we could have nicked a point. But being honest over the piece, they deserved the three points."

Many would say Robbo should be given more time. But in football people don’t always get what they deserve.

Taken from the Scotsman

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