London Hearts Supporters Club

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George Burley <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Craig Thomson
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Burley: This is greater than achievements at Ipswich


GEORGE BURLEY today claimed the revolution at Hearts is bigger than the one he effected at Ipswich by taking them into the Premiership and UEFA Cup.

Burley attained legendary status at Portman Road in 2000 by winning promotion to the English top flight at the fourth time of asking after play-off defeats in the preceding three years.

Burley secured fifth place in the Premiership in his first season and returned European football to Suffolk in doing so but he believes the turnaround in fortunes which he has conducted at Hearts to be even greater.

The manager said: "This is on a larger scale because of the size of the place. Both situations are similar and very lively environments to work in. Edinburgh is a much bigger city. Ipswich's population is 100,000, Edinburgh's is half a million.

"It's a huge tourist attraction as well so it's a bigger picture. Ipswich is a smaller town and more of a homely one, although the people there are very much into their football.

"That's the way the Hearts punters are feeling at the moment. They are excited, they are enjoying watching the football, they are coming in their droves.

"They want to see more of it and I think we're going in the right direction.

"I'd love to see it all continue here but I still feel we are some way short."

Burley recognises that elevated expectations can bring their own sense of pressure to a manager and his players.

However that is a prospect which he will always openly embrace at Tynecastle.

He added: "If you ask me if I am worried at our stadium being full of Hearts fans, then certainly not. I couldn't be more pleased. I was at a shareholders' meeting the other night and there was a record number of people there. The potential is phenomenal, and I still think that with the size of Edinburgh and its outlying areas.

"The potential of Hearts is as big as any. I feel for a lot of the Hearts fans who can't get into the games just now.

"That's unfortunate because our stadium is not bigger. But the support in the last month has been incredible, home and away. Tickets are sold out within a couple of days of going on sale."

Burley is due to meet with Hearts major shareholder Vladimir Romanov in the city centre this evening to discuss which players might arrive at the club before Wednesday, although with such a short space of time the manager is not confident of doing business.

"I'm seeing Mr Romanov after the game and we can have a little chat about players," said Burley. "I feel, as I've said all along, that our squad is not strong enough. We have 19 fit players at the moment but one or two injuries or suspensions will see us at full stretch.

"You need a stronger squad realistically if we are going to get back into Europe. At the moment we have nothing definite in the pipeline. We only have a few days, so time is very tight.

"But all credit to the players who have performed so well so far in the league. You can't take it away from them. A lot of that is down to the spirit and working hard as a team. When you compare our squads to the Old Firm, it doesn't compare because we are still a long way short but there is no lack of endeavour from the boys wearing the shirt just now.

"The start has been incredible but I want to keep moving it on. I keep saying we're not there yet because we are not, but I'm excited and I'm enjoying it. If you look at the players on the training field you'll see it's a joy working with them because they are taking things in like organisation and team work.

"Areas can be strengthened in the side, but you can't fault the work which has been put in."

Taken from the Scotsman

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