London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sun 03 Aug 2008 Hearts 1 Hull City 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth->
2 of 011 Audrius Ksanavicius 33 F H

Laszlo enjoys first taste of Tynecastle

THE nature of the opposition was moderate, and the margin of victory narrow, but Hearts' win over Hull City yesterday should still give their supporters cause for guarded optimism with the new SPL season just five days away.
This is not a squad which seems at all likely to challenge Rangers and Celtic for the top two places, but it is one which, after the major disappointment of last season, is at least headed in the right direction.

Granted, it would not take much to improve on the ill-disciplined and inconsistent performances which produced an eighth-place finish last year. Nonetheless, Csaba Laszlo, the new manager, is a methodical and demanding coach who promises to do a lot more than merely stabilise the club.

He knows he is short of a couple of quality signings, with an experienced striker being the most glaring need, but he is also willing to work hard with his present resources. In return, he expects his players to work hard too, and to maintain high levels of concentration from first to last.

The ability to remain switched on throughout a soporific encounter was one of the most important aspects of Hearts' win. Hull were creatively limited but a physically powerful side, and might just have punished any lapses. In the event, with the Hearts back four preventing them from getting too far forward, the Yorkshire team's best scoring opportunities came from long-range free-kicks.

That back four included Andrew Driver, who was filling in at left-back because of a minor injury to Lee Wallace. Ruben Palazuelos, who would have begun the match on the bench, took over Driver's position on the left of midfield. Palazuelos is far more of a holding midfielder than a wide player, but he showed some aptitude for the role by laying on the only goal of the game from close to the touchline.

That came with more than half an hour played, and allowed Audrius Ksanavicius to make amends for a miss in the seventh minute, when he shot wide from six yards out when he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper after having been put through by Laryea Kingston. The Ghanaian was involved in the build-up to the goal as well, but the scoring chance was really brought about by Jason Thomson. The right-back's angled ball into the box dragged the Hull defence out of position, and when it was deflected back to Palazuelos, the Spaniard had time to look up and see Ksanavicius in an unmarked position on the edge of the six-yard box. Ksanavicius was one of the shortest men on the park, but the cross was perfectly placed and he was able to jump unchallenged and head home.

Hull had had their only real chance of the first half by then – a free-kick by Geovanni from more than 30 yards out which Steve Banks managed to stop. Their best chance of the second half was also a free-kick taken by the Brazilian, and on that occasion too Banks was equal to the threat.

Worryingly for a team about to embark on its first season in the Premiership, they were hardly able to create another opening after that second effort, and in the final half-hour of the game Hearts became more dominant without ever really threatening to inflict an embarrassing defeat on their visitors.

Both teams used a fair number of substitutes in the second half, the first change being the arrival of former Aberdeen striker Dean Windass up front for Hull. Hearts' first replacement actually gave their team a more natural look to it, with Johnny Brown coming on for Palazuelos and taking over at left-back, thus allowing Driver to resume his usual position further upfield.

The other debutant in the home side, Ryan Wallace, was given far less time in which to make an impression, as he came on for Kingston with only four minutes to go. Even so, he, like Brown, showed an encouraging willingness to take players on rather than merely making short, safe passes to senior colleagues.

Wallace came within a couple of feet of scoring in the dying stages of the game, but his shot was deflected wide of Boaz Myhill's goal. Neither he nor Brown can expect a long run in the first team just yet, but at least Laszlo knows they will not be overawed by the occasion if and when they are selected again.

As he prepares for the visit of Motherwell, the manager also knows his preferred starting 11. Indeed, his intention was probably to field it from the start yesterday, with only the injury to Lee Wallace preventing him from doing so.

Having finished third in the SPL last season, Motherwell are likely to provide a tougher test for Hearts than did Hull, who are still a fortnight away from playing their first competitive match.

We will thus have a far clearer indication after that opening league match of just how much real improvement Laszlo has been able to make. For the moment, though, the early signs are encouraging.

Hearts: Banks, Thomson (Ivaskevicius 80), Zaliukas, Berra, Driver (Cesnauskis 88), Kingston (R Wallace 86), Jonsson (Karipidis 58), Stewart, Palazuelos (Brown 47), Ksanavicius (Mikoliunas 71), Mole (Makela 79). Subs not used: MacDonald, Rapnik, McGowan.

Hull City: Myhill, Dawson (Cooper 85), Ashbee (France 85), Turner, Barmby (Halmosi 63), Geovanni (Garcia 67), Folan (Windass 46), Boateng (Fagan 59), Ricketts, Marney (Hughes 80), Gardner. Subs not used: Duke, Doyle.

Organisation and team spirit cheer new manager, but room to improve

CSABA Laszlo's first match at Tynecastle ended in victory, but the new Hearts manager was in no mood to get carried away. The lacklustre nature of the opposition may have had something to do with that, but Laszlo is also aware that his team have a long way to go.

Indeed, while clearly pleased to have beaten Hull City thanks to a first-half goal from Audrius Ksanavicius, the former Ferencvaros and Uganda manager felt it was as important to stress what went wrong as to dwell on what went right.

"I'm happy about the result, it's OK, it gives confidence," he said. "But I saw a lot of mistakes.

"I'm very happy about the team spirit and discipline. In some positions we have work to do, but with the team spirit and organisation I am very happy."

Laszlo has said before he would like to strengthen his squad with a new goalkeeper and an experienced striker, and when asked to specify what kind of mistakes had disappointed him he highlighted an early miss by Ksanavicius. "For example in the first half we had a chance and I'm unhappy we didn't score," he said.

"That was the big problem in the pre-season, that we didn't score. We need a new striker, one who can lead the team and score. Jamie Mole, Juho Makela and Gary Glen are good strikers, but we need more experience. We need more killer instinct. At the moment we have to work harder in this department."

Laszlo knows he does not have millions at his disposal, but he appeared unsure about even a modest budget when asked to rate his chances of bringing in new players before the season kicks off. "I don't know at the moment how much money is in my account, but I think it's not enough," he explained. "At the moment I think about the players I have.

"We have a lot of work to do. But the important thing is to know we have potential. We must build a team. We must build confidence in the team. We can have a successful year."

Given his belief in hard work and attention to detail, the manager's answer when asked what he was most pleased in came as no surprise. "We had 90 minutes of concentration. This is very good and what we want," he concluded.

Losing 1-0 and hardly creating a scoring chance must have been far from what Phil Brown wanted from his visit to Edinburgh, but the Hull manager did not appear too despondent afterwards. "There were one or two positives and one or two negatives," he said. "The bottom line is pre-season friendlies are not about results, they're about fitness. Today we lacked punch in the final third, but we had that in the first ten or 12 games of last season too."

That slow start, however, was in the Championship. If they begin their first Premiership campaign in like manner, they could be trailing behind the rest of the field before the clocks go back.

Brown said his team improved when they brought on former Aberdeen player Dean Windass. "I thought we showed a little bit of a lack of intelligence in the first half," added the Hull manager. "We condensed the space when we were attacking.

"Bringing on the old war horse at half-time helped us stretch them a bit, he pulled off the defenders' shoulders to create space.

"The final third is a little bit of a problem, we have only threatened from long-range free-kicks and follow-ups."

Taken from the Scotsman

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