London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Daily Record ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Craig Swan auth-> Iain Brines
[D Clarkson 33] ;[D Clarkson 80]
14 of 029 Michael Stewart 25 ;Audrius Ksanavicius 40 ;Saulius Mikoliunas 81 L SPL H

Hearts 3-2 Motherwell

Aug 11 2008 Craig Swan

MICHAEL STEWART knows he could forever be known as a failure but insists Csaba Laszlo is the man to help him shed the unwanted tag for good.

The midfielder's fabulous engine-room show ensured Hearts' new Hungarian gaffer got his SPL career off to a flying start with a thrilling win over Motherwell at a vibrant Tynecastle.

It also reignited the long-running debate over Stewart's value to the club and confirmed he is a man who can help lead Hearts back into a position of power.

Stewart has been labelled plenty in the past. Ill-disciplined, they said. Bad attitude, poor temperament - you name it.

What has never been in question is his undoubted ability which tempted Sir Alex Ferguson to give him first-team games at Manchester United as a kid and, in this 90 minutes, he was simply sensational.

To be fair, it needed something special to take the spotlight from Laszlo in his first SPL game in charge.

The manager was raw emotion. Gestures, signals, bounding around the technical area and celebrating goals in a manner which made Slaven Bilic look wooden. But Stewart, with a midfield masterclass, provided the special ingredient to give everyone a reminder of just what he can bring to Hearts.

From the moment he opened the scoring with a sublime first touch and clinically calm finish, he was everywhere.

Tackling like a tiger, backtracking, demanding the ball and spraying passes around Tynecastle, it was a terrific display in front of Scotland boss George Burley, who may well add to the player's three international caps.

Stewart knows he's not always touched the stars during his career but believes that, with the help of a gaffer he respects, he can finally begin to change people's opinions of him at the age of 27.

He said: "It's amazing how people's perceptions can be altered.

"Even though I was at a club like Manchester United and played first-team games, when you are not a regular in the team people see it is a failure. I left for Nottingham Forest and, even though I had agood start, that did not work out either, so there is another failure.

"I came back up the road and was at Rangers for a pre-season. That didn't work out so there's a failure.

"I came to Hearts for my first season and that didn't work out so there's another one.

That is four failures in two years.

"That gives people a perception that, yes he can play football, but he's failed there, there and there.

"An image of who you are gets built up and there will be a question mark over me for the rest of my career. I understand that.

"But since leaving United, I have enjoyed working under two good managers in Tony Mowbray and now the gaffer here.

"I've said a million times that if you work under a manager you respect, it lifts you and you can progress. That's what I'll look to do.

"A few people mentioned that I said in pre-season a lot of managers do not know too much about football. They laughed and joked about it but I was being serious.

When you do work for a man with a knowledge of the game, coupled with his straightforwardness and man-management skills it is a joy.

"I'm straightforward and honest and, when you get that in return, it is refreshing.

"I've been happy with the way things have gone in the past couple of years. Last year there were problems at the club.

"Prior to that, I worked under a great manager at Hibs in Tony and he is similar to our new manager. I learned a lot.

"Last season tailed away for me with injury and suspensions and that can alter people's perceptions but on the whole I was happy.

"We've had one game this season and I don't want to get carried away with myself or the team but I've known for a long time what I am capable of."

Stewart showed it but the player, like Hearts, needs consistency before cementing any revival.

There is no doubt Laszlo's arrival has brought a genuine wave of optimism to Gorgie.

Motherwell manager Mark McGhee was the gaffer Hearts supremo Vladimir Romanov wanted before he appointed Laszlo and the visiting fans were quick to praise their gaffer's refusal to move.

Before the game and to the tune of Amy Winehouse's Rehab, they chanted: "They wanted McGhee to be a Jambo, but he said No, No, No."

But it was the home punters who were singing at the finish as Lithuanians Audrius Ksanavicius and sub Saulius Mikoliunas - the latter with a fantastic late winner - sealed maximum points.

Motherwell, despite two equalisers either side of the interval from impressive David Clarkson, left with nothing.

McGhee's team performed well middle to front and there was plenty for the manager to be encouraged about as his troops start the mission of trying to improve of last term's third place.

Thekind of defending that brought Hearts' first two goals - centre-backs Stephen Craigan and Mark Reynolds were culpable - will destroy any hopes of that.

But the day belonged to Hearts and Laszlo's team didn't really have a failure.

Not even Stewart.

MAN OF THE MATCH Michael Stewart (Hearts)

MAGIC MOMENT Sub Saulius Mikoliunas' wonder winner with eight minutes left.

Taken from the Daily Record

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