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Paulo Sergio <-auth Gary Mackay auth-> Charlie Richmond
9 of 009 Jamie Hamill pen 43 ;Lee Mair og 70L SPL H

Sergio has given players confidence to go on a run

Published Date: 19 September 2011
By Gary Mackay
Slowly but surely, things are starting to take shape under Paulo Sergio, and we're building up a nice bit of momentum.
We're looking particularly strong at home, where we've won three on the spin, and there's always the chance that, with a bit of confidence behind them, Hearts could go on a run like they did last season.

Sometimes in the first half against St Mirren it was a bit pedestrian and there wasn't a lot of pace to our play, but once we got the goal I thought we did really well and could have added to our goals tally. It was a really impressive performance.

The injury to Andy Webster in the warm-up would have upset the plans, but I thought Eggert Jonsson went in and did particularly well. He's always had a willingness to get about the pitch, but it certainly looks as if the manager has helped - as he has done with all the players - make him more assured on the ball.

Ironically, it seems the way Paulo wants to play is going to be ideally suited to many of the players Jim Jefferies brought in. I'm talking in particular about Jamie Hamill, Danny Grainger, Ryan Stevenson and Mehdi Taouil, who all did really well on Saturday. I think John Sutton could also still have something to offer - I hope he's not written off - but certainly the other three summer signings, along with Ryan, look like they're definitely going to enjoy fruitful seasons under Sergio.

I spoke last week about how I'd like to see two up front and it was nice to see Stephen Elliott having Stevenson up beside him, with Taouil floating about in behind. Stevenson is really starting to look the part. Taouil was very creative and there were a couple of occasions when he pulled the ball out of the air and his touch was just wonderful.

The manager has also identified that he's got two really good attacking full-backs at his disposal. Grainger and Hamill have got good enthusiasm and fitness levels to get down the flanks and put crosses in and that has afforded the manager the luxury of playing more central players and leaving out most of his wide players.

David Templeton, Andrew Driver, Suso and Arvydas Novikovas were all out of the starting line-up, so the manager must feel that the full-backs are able to provide enough natural width. I'm sure it will be a case of horses for courses and these guys will all get their chance to come back into the side. Perhaps some of them will come in for the League Cup game at Ayr United on Wednesday.

I'll be interested to see how Paulo approaches that game. It will be a real cup tie down there so I wonder whether he will look to continue the momentum with the same side that played at the weekend or whether he will freshen things up and maybe play a similar side to the one that played down at Tottenham.

One thing's for sure, whatever team takes to the field, it will be a really tricky game. Ayr got a bit of a doing at the weekend but that could easily have been down to them having an eye on the game against us. They knocked Hibs out of the Scottish Cup last season and we lost at First Division opposition in last year's League Cup when Falkirk put us out so there is no way we can take them lightly. I made my debut as a sub down there in a 4-1 defeat in the League Cup and it can be a hostile wee ground.

After Ayr, we have a live televised game away to a St Johnstone side who are flying. To win 3-0 at Fir Park is a fabulous result so it should be a really interesting game in Perth between two teams hoping to maintain their momentum.

I'll be really happy if the manager is able to keep progressing the team in the manner he wants but I'm sure there will be times when it doesn't always come off, particularly in the winter months when the pitches and the conditions might not be conducive to passing football. That's something the manager will have to deal with but, if signs so far are anything to go by, I'm sure he'll find a way.

Taken from the Scotsman

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