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13 of 016 Rudi Skacel 32 ;David Templeton 52 L SPL H

Hearts 2 Hamilton Academical 0: Jefferies, at 60, is still adept at producing winners

Chris Tait at Tynecastle

22 Nov 2010

JIM JEFFERIES turns 60 today.

A bus pass will now be sought, but retirement is still a long way off. See, football management is no different to any other job.

Jefferies' longevity will not be down to revised government guidelines, though, rather the Hearts manager is proving adept at combating the seven signs of ageing. Or at least six of them. Whatever the heck they are. During his post-match musings Jefferies was asked what was to become of the commemorative shirt which marked the passing of former Hearts goalkeeper Jim Cruickshank, an enquiry which sparked a meandering monologue about a friend who collected old football tops.

The impromptu anecdote may have been a sign of his advancing years, but Jefferies had avoided similar senior moments prior to that. Bedecked in a tracksuit and trainers, Jefferies prowled his technical area, delivering instructions, encouragement and even the odd reprimand from its perimeter.

A vastly experienced and highly respected coach, he has rejuvenated Hearts since returning to the club last season, with his side now sitting third in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

In the match with Hamilton Academical, Hearts recovered from a lethargic start to cruise to a relatively comfortable win, a result secured by two extraordinary goals from Rudi Skacel and David Templeton.

Those strikes are indicative of the resurgence Hearts are enjoying since Jefferies' arrival. Under his predecessor, Csaba Laszlo, they could look vulnerable, a frailty which saw him sacked in January. They are a much sturdier proposition these days. The squad might have undergone little renovation – only three of Hearts' starting XI could be referred to as new signings – but the change in attitude is far more apparent.

"We got a slap when we lost to Kilmarnock at home 3-0," said Marian Kello, Hearts' goalkeeper. "We came out of training and got shouted at by Jim [Jefferies] and we started to do things well and properly. I don't think he will calm down. This is his personality; you can change some things but not your heart."

Kello also had a hand, quite literally, in his side's win when he saved a late penalty from Simon Mensing.

The keeper has now gone four games without conceding a goal, a habit he will look to continue when Hearts face Motherwell next week. "If we can beat them it will save our third position," said Kello. "It will be an amazing achievement if we can win there."

If Hearts succeed, Jefferies will have further reason to celebrate. Today though, he will have to settle for three cheers and a slice of cake. There are worse things to get on your birthday.

Taken from the Herald

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