|Report Index--> 2006-07--> All for 20061202
|Sat 02 Dec 2006 St Mirren 2 Hearts 2
|sportingo.com ------ Report
|[S Kean 19] ;[S Kean 22]
|Saulius Mikoliunas 1 ;Marius Zaliukas 51
Hearts football is in turmoil - where will it all end?
There is no point in speculating any more, no point in attempting to read between the lines or pre-empt any happenings at Tynecastle or Riccarton. There is no point whatsoever in endeavouring to uncover the hidden truths behind the fog of war that has settled over Heart of Midlothian FC - in your very best Dick Van Dyke "it sure is a pea souper, guv, and make no mistake."
After my speculation of a couple of weeks ago that Steven Pressley would soon be brought back in from the cold, his punishment for past crimes against the club forgiven, it all goes the way of the pear once again.
Maybe the speculation that divisions were being healed and wounded egos on the mend was correct at the time. After all, Elvis was back as captain for last week's game up at Inverness, but, as they say, "a week is a long time in politics."
If a week is a long time in politics, then 15 minutes is a long time when involved with Hearts.
All parties at the moment are keeping very tight-lipped about things - but the upshot is that Pressley has been suspended by Hearts.
Why? Has he played his last game for Hearts? Will he go to Dundee United in the January transfer window? Or will he go to Rangers? Both could do with him! Or will Vladimir Romanov take the huff even more and sit on him until his contract is up?
Who knows? I don't, the media certainly don't, so they really should keep shtum about the situation, Elvis probably hasn't much of a clue and I would be surprised if any of the Romanov regime could guesstimate the outcome, either. Good grief.
Pressley was offered (three times, apparently ) a player-coaching role at the club and turned the position down. And now he is out on his ear!
Opinions, as ever, I guess, are stretched right across the spectrum of possibilities. The truth, of course, will be somewhere in the middle. The trouble is that as each of these episodes forces Hearts' season to lurch and wheel further out of control, that mid-point where the truth hides is drifting ever closer to one end of the spectrum - disaster for the club.
The Scottish press and to some extend radio and TV media are culpable for at least some of this debacle. If there genuinely is no agenda against the Romanov regime in Scotland's media, then it is pretty hard to see.
An example: A few weeks back, when Romanov came out with the statement about selling players in January if they did not buck up their ideas, the press went nuts. This was more evidence of that mentalist Russian running roughshod all over the sensibilities of the poor downtrodden Hearts players.
This week, the same press were applauding Craig Levein's strong management for laying down an ultimatum to his players in order to get the best out of them. The demand was: "If you don't improve I will sell you in January".
I rest my case. No I don't. The media can bleat all they want about the fact that they simply report what they see and they have a duty to tell it as they see it, but they must realise the power they wield. It is a dangerous game they play with one of Scotland's great sporting institutions, all in the name of flogging a few newspapers.
Hearts turned up in Paisley on Saturday desperately needing a win. Can't remember the last time that was not the case. St Mirren also were in trouble, after their good start to the season. The momentum generated by last season's promotion into the SPL has now ebbed away, the last victory for St Mirren was ... the last time they played Hearts!
Saints have been in freefall down the league, I guess they were delighted it was Hearts who were calling this weekend; they must have seen this as a rare chance to get back to winning ways.
St Mirren, then, would have been shocked almost immediately as a deft chip through by Edgaras Jankuaskas was sneaked onto by Saulias Mikoliunas for Hearts to go 1 - 0 up in the first minute.
My pulse was racing. Nothing would help to get Hearts back on the right path than a whacking great 5-0 or 6-0 win. Was this the day?
Er, no. With John McGlynn now departed, our youth team coach Steven Frail was in the dugout to offer his capabilities ( he can speak English ). It was, however, frailties in the Hearts defence that allowed St Mirren to take a grip of the game.
Two goals in quick succession after 19 and 21 minutes, turned the game upside down - the Hearts defence guilty on both occasions.
Christophe Berra took the brunt for the problems by being replaced by Marius Zaliukas almost immediately after St Mirren's second goal. They didn't score again but this is probably more down two-goal Stewart Kean going off injured than any replacements in the Hearts defence.
Worth a mention here, though, that Zaliukas shows a lot more promise now that he is being played in the correct position. I hope the Hearts support can now find it in themselves to get behind him and not on his back.
This was a good game, open and played with pace and exciting stuff to watch. Andreas Velicka had the ball in the net for what seemed to be the equaliser. However, he was called back for offside and Craig Gordon once again brought off some fine saves to keep Hearts in the game.
Towards the end of the first half, Hearts had recovered from the double strike and were controlling the game, pressing the Saints back and looking for the leveller.
This came after a foul on Paul Hartley. A stinging delivery into the box was met by Zaliukas for a glancing header and 2 - 2.
There was only one winner after that; things were looking up. As is the way of things when they are not going your way, however, they continue to not go your way. Hartley managed to pick up a second booking and walked with 15 minutes to go, leaving Hearts to hang on for the point rather than press for the winner.
Hartley was captain in place of suspended Pressley. When he attempted to hand the armband to Gordon, he appeared to reject it and eventually it was picked up by Neilson. More needless speculation by the media.
On the upside, that was the first game since probably mid-September that Hearts have had more possession than the opposition. Not that that means much - but it is perhaps an indication that we are starting to come together again.
|Sat 02 Dec 2006 St Mirren 2 Hearts 2