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 Lovell auth->
5 of 011 Audrius Ksanavicius 33 F H

A torpedo in the Hull puts Hearts on course

IT'S hard to know how to rate the merit of Hearts' performance yesterday because, despite the fact they won in comfortable fashion, their opponents, Hull City, were way off the pace for the majority of the match and offered little threat at any stage.
You can only beat the opposition put in front of you, but most people at Tynecastle would surely have expected more from Phil Brown's newly-promoted side.

Based on yesterday's performance, Hull look an absolute certainty for relegation this seaso

Steve Banks had to make a couple of saves from long-range free-kicks but, apart from that, he was rarely troubled.

Hearts chopped and changed their keeper far too often last year, something which cost them a fair few points over the course of the season. It would benefit the team greatly if they stick with Banks as he is a steadying influence on those around him.

The partnership of Zaliukas and Berra were in cruise control throughout yesterday's match and it reinforced my view that they are the two best centre-backs at the club, much the same as last season.

Jason Thomson put in another steady performance and he is someone who will surely improve as he picks up more first-team experience.

He lacks a bit of pace, which is normally one asset you would look for in a full-back, but very few teams in the SPL play with wingers nowadays, so as long as his positional sense is sound it may not stop him progressing.

Andrew Driver has become an important player at Tynecastle, though if nothing else, yesterday's match showed while he may be a good winger his defensive capabilities leave a lot to be desired.

He let the opposing full-back inside him on several occasions, the cardinal sin for a full-back, and he lost possession in dangerous areas which allowed Hull the chance to counter-attack.

The decision to play him at left-back can only have been an experiment due to injuries and a lack of cover in that position, but hopefully Csaba Laszlo will quickly realise Driver is far more of an asset to Hearts in an attacking role where he has the chance to provide a cutting edge.

Larry Kingston looked back to his best, some of his play was a joy to behold and if he can maintain that level of form then Hearts will carry a greater threat in the final third.

All the midfield played well yesterday, but the shape of the team still doesn't look right.

Ruben Palazuelos played on the left of a four, but he was always looking to come inside with the ball because he feels more at home in the centre of the park where he can go right or left.

The obvious answer would be to move Driver back to his favoured position out wide on the left, presuming Lee Wallace recovers quickly from injury to take the left-back slot.

Ksanavicius had one of his best games in a Hearts jersey but, despite scoring the only goal of the game, his finishing leaves a lot to be desired.

The Lithuanian has always been more provider than goalscorer, though, and if the new manager favours a 4-4-1-1 formation then he's the obvious choice for the floating role.

Jamie Mole worked really hard all game. His work ethic was a lesson to the likes of Christian Nade, who could still have a big part to play this season if only he can be bothered to get himself fighting fit.

Hearts may still be a work in progress, but they already look far more organised and motivated than this time last season.

It's early days under Mr Laszlo, but, at this moment in time, the future looks bright.

Just five days to go before the start of the SPL season and then we've another nine months of football to savour.

Like most people, I anticipate another close title race between Rangers and Celtic but I'd fancy Celtic to make it four in a row for Gordon Strachan.

Dundee United would be my picks for best of the rest, but if Hearts sign a couple of decent strikers I could see them in the shake-up as well.

Hamilton will undoubtedly find the step up to SPL level a testing one, but I have a suspicion Inverness could be the team that really struggles this year.

On the flip side, I expect to see a big improvement from the likes of Falkirk and St Mirren.

Here's hoping the 2008/09 season turns out to be a classic.

Taken from the Scotsman

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