|Report Index--> 2006-07--> All for 20061202
|Sat 02 Dec 2006 St Mirren 2 Hearts 2
|Times ------ Report
|[S Kean 19] ;[S Kean 22]
|Saulius Mikoliunas 1 ;Marius Zaliukas 51
Another low point in the Hearts farce
St Mirren 2 Heart Of Midlothian 2
One of these days Heart of Midlothian might actually grab the headlines for playing football. Until that time arrives their play on the field will continue to be overshadowed by the farcical and increasingly bitter battle for power which threatens to wreck all the good work achieved by the club last season.
From the terracing talk to the radio phone-ins, once more, the situation regarding the absence of Steven Pressley, the captain, from the Hearts squad was the only topic of conversation. The fact that the small matter of the one of the most enthralling first-halves of the season so far had unfolded in front of the 5,728 supporters was merely incidental in the bigger picture of events.
Pressley, known to one and all by his predictable nickname “Elvis”, had not even been given the chance to leave the building as he has reportedly been suspended for the club after peace talks with the wonderfully-titled director of infrastructure, Pedro Lopez, broke down.
Pressley’s crime? The rather heinous offence of speaking out against the running of the club last month and going public about the dressing-room disharmony that now exists under the controversial ownership of Vladimir Romanov, the Lithuanian banker.
The strong Lithuanian contingent, both on and off the field, were rumoured to be behind a plot to strip the Scottish triumvirate of Pressley, Craig Gordon and Paul Hartley of their power in the dressing-room and make it easier for Romanov and his buddies to run the club as they see fit.
The Scotland centre-back had been welcomed back into the fold for last week’s trip to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, but news of his latest punishment — after the reported row with the management team on Thursday — leaked out on Friday night after Pressley was not allowed to train with his team-mates, and has left the Hearts supporters and Scottish football fans in general wondering where the capital club goes from here.
Pressley, it now seems, has played his last game for the club, but his immediate future is still shrouded in mystery. Will Romanov let him walk away for free in January? Will he keep Pressley in the reserves for the last 20 months or so on of his rumoured £6,000-per-week contract? Or will he be hung out to dry for his insubordination? Of course, Romanov could answer all of these scenarios in an instant. He just chooses not to. Or let anyone else at the club do so either for that matter.
Valdas Ivanauskas, the head coach of Hearts for this week, would only repeat that all will become clear in the next couple of days. Maybe. All that can be said for certain is that until every man has had his say and the truth outs then the fact that Hearts are imploding on the field as well as off it will be of secondary importance.
Edgaras Jankauskas, the Lithuania international striker, put his head above the parapet to utter a few interesting points which will have no doubt irked the powers that be at Tyncastle. “I can assure you that none of the Lithuanians were involved in any plot,” Jankauskas said. “We don’t even understand what is going on. Of course, it upsets me that people think that we are behind a plot. It is unfair that you are judged just because you are born in Lithuania or another country.
“The dressing-room is united. It does not matter if you are black, white, born in Senegal, France or Lithuania — we all do the same job. The main problem in the dressing-room is that we have no stability. That is the problem.”
Ivanauskas, on Saturday night, was determined to keep his own counsel. Having returned to the technical area for the first time after an enforced holiday for stress, he was not forthcoming in the reasoning for Pressley’s exclusion, saying: “I know very well the situation with Steven, but I will not speak about it until Sunday or Monday.
“Before the game I had stress, after the game I had stress. There is positive and negative stress. Now it is positive as I am happy with the performance.”
Putting the Pressley saga to one side, Hearts missed a glorious opportunity to push on in their quest for Champions League football. A Jankauskas cross into the box inside the opening 19 seconds was poked into the net by Saulius Mikoliunas. St Mirren quickly hit back thanks to a Stewart Kean brace before Marius Zaliukas, the Lithuanian substitute, diverted a Paul Hartley cross past Tony Bullock, the St Mirren goalkeeper.
Hearts could even have sneaked three points had it not been for the dismissal of Hartley late on for two bookings.
David van Zanten was not overly enamoured with the performance of the visitors and, in particular, the simulation of the foreign players. “Some of the Hearts players are known for it now,” he said. “They dive about and whatever. You just have to get used to it. It is not nice but it is just part of their game. It is frustrating when they win free kicks from it. Hearts are not the only team at it — most teams have a couple of players who do it.”
There once was a time when outright cheating on the park would grab all of the attention, but this is Hearts.
St Mirren (3-5-2): T Bullock 6 — K McGowne 6, J Potter 6, K Broadfoot 6 — D van Zanten 6, H Murray 7, A Millen 6, S Lappin 6, G Brady 6 (sub: C Molloy, 70min 4) — S Kean 7 (sub: B Mehmet, 26 4; sub: A Burke, 78), J Sutton 7. Substitutes not used: C Smith, A Reid, R McCay, S Gemmill. Booked: Van Zanten, Potter, Molloy.
Heart of Midlothian (4-4-2): C Gordon 7 — R Neilson 5, C Berra 4 (sub: M Zaliukas, 24 6), I Tall 5, T Fyssas 5 — S Mikoliunas 7, P Hartley 6, B Aguiar 6 (sub: J Brellier, 83), N McCann 6 — A Velicka 6, E Jankauskas 7(sub: M Pospisil, 78). Substitutes not used: S Banks, J Mole, N Barasa, J Goncalves. Booked: Hartley, McCann, Aguiar, Mikoliunas. Sent off: Hartley. Kean 19, 21
Referee: C Richmond 7. Attendance: 5,728
UNION BACKS PRESSLEY
The Scottish players’ union offered its backing to Steven Pressley on Saturday evening after the draw with
St Mirren and described Heart of Midlothian’s treatment of their captain as “wholly unjustified”.
Fraser Wishart, the union’s secretary, said: “The SPFA condemns in the strongest terms the treatment of Steven Pressley. We have for a long time been concerned by the unorthodox managerial and employment practices at the club.”
Pressley had appeared to patch up his relationship with the club when he was recalled to the starting line-up last weekend, but, despite the return from illness of Valdas Ivanauskas, the head coach, the Scotland defender was again left out the side. It is reported that Pressley was involved in a row with the team management on Thursday. He did not train with his Hearts team-mates on Friday, despite being fully fit, having effectively been suspended by the Edinburgh club. And, after the final whistle at St Mirren, Wishart said the union would back Pressley as much as possible.
“Steven Pressley was 100 per cent mentally and physically available for this game,” he said. “He has had — and will continue to enjoy — the full support and backing of the SPFA. We, along with our legal team, will offer Steven every assistance to enable him to seek redress via internal football procedures or other means.”
Taken from timesonline.co.uk
|Sat 02 Dec 2006 St Mirren 2 Hearts 2