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John Robertson <-auth Graeme Croser auth-> John Rowbotham
Maybury Alan [R Foran pen 28]
1 of 013 ----- L SPL H

Homecoming party will be a wake if we lose


HEARTS fans will throw a party to celebrate the homecoming of John Robertson tomorrow but the guest of honour would love nothing more than to be upstaged by his players.

Try as he might to play down the significance of his first home game in charge of the club, legions of Jambos will be intent on hailing the return of the man who smashed home a record-breaking 310 goals during his playing career in maroon.

That a full fortnight has passed since his appointment has only served to heighten the anticipation ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Motherwell.

Each of the Jambos’ four intervening matches have been played away from the club’s spiritual home.

Murrayfield staged the UEFA Cup tie against Schalke, then SPL trips to Aberdeen and Kilmarnock sandwiched a CIS Cup tie at Dunfermline.

Over the piece the team’s form has been excellent.

Two victories and a draw have been gleaned from the domestic matches while Robertson did not pick the team for the narrow defeat to Schalke.

Already the team is starting to bear the hallmarks of the coach’s favoured passing game and he is sure to receive a rapturous welcome when he steps out into the dug-out - even if he is eager to play down the significance of the occasion.

He said: "This match is not about John Robertson - it’s about the 11 Hearts players on the pitch trying to get three points.

"Yes, it will be fantastic to be back at Tynecastle and it will also be emotional in a way but I can’t afford to lose sight of why I’m here and that’s to manage the team. I would far prefer it if I was booed and we won rather than get cheered and lose.

"The fans have always reacted brilliantly to me when I’ve been back as a coach with Inverness and Livingston and hopefully they’ll be the same tomorrow. But I think the most important thing is that they get 100 per cent behind the team.

"My concern is that we go out there, get a good result and entertain the fans - that’s what really matters."

Tomorrow’s match is an early appetiser for the CIS Cup semi-final between the two sides which will be played at Easter Road in February.

The reminder that Hearts are just one game away from a final illustrates the excitement which surrounds the club just now.

The team are again challenging for a European place, remain active participants in this year’s UEFA Cup and new investment is poised to be injected into the club by Vladimir Romanov.

Robertson refuses to get carried away by the feel-good factor but admits he has been mightily impressed by the ability of his squad to maintain its focus during such an intense period of activity both on and off the park.

He continued: "I think it’s a massive credit to the players that they have not let their performances dip over the past few games.

"There was a real hullabaloo before the Schalke game with the change in manager and yet the players, who were excellently prepared by John McGlynn and Stevie Frail, got on with the job in hand as professionally as ever.

"I had a chat to them after that game and they’ve kept it going. They have done marvellously - it would have been easy for them to be distracted by everything that’s going on but they’ve kept their minds on it.

"They’ve also had a pretty arduous schedule with all the away games and I’ve been delighted with them. It’s been a good start and we just have to keep it going."

The SFL’s decision to stage the forthcoming semi-final at Easter Road did not go down well with ’Well boss Terry Butcher, who claims that with the game being held in Edinburgh Hearts have effectively been handed home advantage. Robertson, however, believes common sense has prevailed given his previous experiences with Inverness at a deserted Hampden. He added: "I said all along that I’d have been happy to play the game anywhere but I think Easter Road was the sensible choice.

"Of course it’s good that the game is in Edinburgh and gives our fans a chance to see the game locally. I can understand Motherwell’s disappointment but it’s not too far away for them either. I think the size of Easter Road is perfect for this match - there should be a capacity crowd and a good atmosphere to go with it.

"The trouble you have at Hampden in these games is that there are a lot of empty spaces. Inverness played Dunfermline and Dundee in past semis and there wasn’t a lot of noise."

Robertson does not expect tomorrow’s match to have any bearing on February’s cup clash.

He concluded: "I suppose there will be a bit of added spice tomorrow because we have been drawn together in the semi.

"But, to be honest, I don’t think it will have any bearing on the cup game. If the semi was next Wednesday or even the week after then, yes, it might be relevant but it’s still quite a while away so in that respect I don’t think it will be too significant."

Taken from the Scotsman

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