Robertson confident that this could be big year for Hearts
3 Nov 1997
Aberdeen 1 Hearts 4
There have been too many disappointments for John Robertson to entertain fanciful notions, but the veteran striker is increasingly confident that Hearts can end the long wait this season.
The manner in which the Edinburgh side reclaimed pole position in the premier division with a 4-1 win at Aberdeen endorsed their credentials as potential champions.
Trailing 1-0 at the interval to a goal from Englishman Dean Windass, the quality of their play and the character within their ranks reduced the Dons to a bunch of hapless individuals, and claimed their biggest league win at Pittodrie.
That such an impressive performance marked Robertson's 500th league appearance for Hearts made the occasion all the more memorable for a player who was not born the last time his club lifted a trophy.
''This was a very, very positive result for us,'' he insisted.
''Normally Pittodrie is one of the most difficult fixtures on the card, and it has been a bad one for us in the past.
Anything we got was always regarded as a bonus.
''However, this squad is as good as I have known at Tyne-castle.
People should not under- estimate us.
Every player is mobile and comfortable on the ball, and form an extremely-close knit group.
''It would be unfair, though, to compare it with the one which lost out in the championship in 1986.
''So far all we have done is make a positive start to our campaign.
If we can remain in this position until the halfway stage, then we will definitely have a chance of taking the title.
''It was marvellous to mark such a milestone in my career with such an outstanding performance.
''I have had to wait for my chance to reach it but I have no complaint.
The manager has picked a team for each game and has been proved right.
''Now it is down to me to put pressure on Jim Jefferies to keep me in the team, and I think I have given him a few headaches after this win which has shown everyone that we a very good side indeed.'' Jefferies, not perceived as a master tactician, read the script perfectly to transform the game.
The Italian, Stefano Salvatori, was deployed to halt the runs of Stephen Glass, who had caused so many problems, and the Austrian, Thomas Flogel, was moved behind the front two strikers and claimed two goals.
Winger Neil McCann contributed with the equaliser which ignited their revival, and the own goal by defender Gary Smith ended Aberdeen's hopes of salvaging a point.
''Two or three players did not follow instructions and we suffered,'' Jefferies explained.
''But they were sorted out during the interval, there was a better balance to our team which took the game by the scruff of the neck.
''It was a magnificent display, our seventh win in eight games and achieved by playing good football.
''However, we need to do this every week and for 90 minutes to stay where we are.
There is going to be pressure from opponents intent on bringing us crashing back to earth.
''There have been many changes in the last two years.
Youngsters have been brought into the squad, quality foreigners have arrived along also with players from this country.
''These changes caused inconsistency but this young side can only improve and the nucleus is there to serve Hearts well for the next five years.
By contrast Aberdeen face a week of soul-searching after such a embarrassing surrender.
Manager Roy Aitken admitted: ''You cannot expect to win games when you only perform in parts of them, and I have told the players this is not good enough.
They must examine themselves in the mirror and return with answers.
''It was criminal that we didn't punish Hearts further after having been so much in control in the first half.
Once again we shot ourselves in the foot with all our inconsistency.
''There were individual and collective errors, and unless players can sort themselves out we will continue to suffer.
In these difficult times you look for character and mental toughness but we have failed in this category too often.
''We had injuries but this is no excuse.
The players available were good enough to win this game.'' Next league games: Aberdeen - Dundee United (a); Hearts - Hibernian (h).
Turning point THE changes made by the visiting manager Jim Jefferies during the interval break were a major turning point and the reason Hearts came away from Pittodrie comfortable victors.
The alterations made put Aberdeen's opponents in the driving seat and they were never in danger after they had taken the lead.
Taken from the Herald