'Well fail to take strain
11 Jan 1996
ALONG with every one of the 9288 supporters, Alex McLeish watched the match at Tynecastle, but the Motherwell manager couldn't believe his eyes.
A team bereft of ideas and running on empty so far as courage and desire was concerned left McLeish stunned.
Long after the last of the fans had deserted the stadium McLeish stood staring at the floor, occasionally shaking his head, but the memories wouldn't leave.
The words took time in coming.
A proud man was hurting, but, eventually, he said: "It was a display of a team which has no confidence.
I thought my team lacked guts tonight.
They were spineless as a collective unit." The Lanarkshire side are stranded at the bottom of the premier division and, on current form, they don't seem capable of lifting themselves off the floor.
They have only 15 points and have gone 12 games without a win.
It looks bad for Motherwell and McLeish added: "It's worrying, very worrying.
I need people with guts and big hearts now." Exactly where he will find these men of more robust qualities is hard to identify and the manager will have to soldier on with the resources he has hoping there will still be a chance to avoid relegation when injured players return.
However, McLeish made it clear he is not hiding behind a casualty list which has hampered him.
After Steve Fulton, John Colquhoun, and Alan Johnston (twice) had beaten Scott Howie, the former Aberdeen and Scotland defender admitted: "That was the worst performance, worse even than the heavy defeat by Dundee United last year.
I know I have the ultimate responsibility for what happens, but if any of the players have any pride they will know they owe us a lot more than they gave tonight.
"It hurt me and they have all got to look at themselves after this." Yet, it could have been different for Motherwell had they been bold enough to take advantage of a missed penalty attempt by John Robertson after six minutes.
Innes Ritchie pulled Neil Pointon down in the box and Robertson's first attempt easily beat Gilles Rousset, but referee Sandy Roy demanded the kick be retaken, presumably because a Hearts player had moved into the box too early.
Robertson's second kick was poor and, even though Scott Howie could only block the effort, the Hearts striker then sent the rebound over the bar.
"I thought that would have been the turn we needed," McLeish added.
He knew better in 17 minutes when a low shot from Fulton found the net for the first goal and 15 minutes later John Colquhoun headed home after Gary Locke had driven a cross in from the right for the second.
Hearts' young winger Alan Johnston took over in the second half scoring twice, the first arriving in 50 minutes.
Gary Mackay backheeeled the ball into Johnston's path and he found the net from the edge of the box, although the shot may have taken a slight defelection.
His second was scored six minutes from time and it was a gem.
Pointon crossed from the left to the far post and Johnston struck a fierce volley which left Howie, the only player exempt from McLeish's criticism, with little chance.
"On this form Johnston is some player," said Hearts' manager Jim Jefferies.
"His two goals were special and it was 4-0 going on eight." HEARTS - Rousset, Locke, Ritchie, Mackay, McManus, Bruno, Johnston, Colquhoun, Robertson, Fulton, Pointon.
Substitutes - Lawrence, Smith, McPherson.
MOTHERWELL - Howie, Ritchie, McKinnon, Krivokapic, Martin, Denham, May, Dolan, Burns, Arnott, Davies.
Substitutes - Roddie, McMillan, Essandoh.
Referee - A Roy (Aberdeen).
q Results - Page 31 Hearts 4, Motherwell 0
Taken from the Herald