London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 09 Aug 2008 Hearts 3 Motherwell 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Iain Brines
[D Clarkson 33] ;[D Clarkson 80]
20 of 029 Michael Stewart 25 ;Audrius Ksanavicius 40 ;Saulius Mikoliunas 81 L SPL H

Laszlo's passion spreads quickly

Hearts 3 Motherwell 2
IMPASSIONED players and an equally fervent coach simply overwhelmed Motherwell on Saturday. Mark McGhee, like many others inside a vibrant Tynecastle, must have wondered what Csaba Laszlo has done with Hearts.
On display were the same players who languished in eighth position last season, yet they scurried over every blade of grass like tenacious terriers during what was a stirring opening-day encounter.

"It was a fair result," commented McGhee, confronting Hearts for the first time since rejecting the chance of the manager's job in May. His side twice came from behind but could not recover after Saulius Mikoliunas struck a venomous third goal nine minutes from time. As Laszlo performed an uninhibited jig on the touchline, the inescapable notion was that this was how Tynecastle should be: Bouncing.

Motherwell didn't suddenly become a poor team over the close season. In fact, they displayed many of the attributes which secured UEFA Cup football last year, tidy passing and a willingness to attack, with Stephen Hughes the chief architect for the predatory David Clarkson. That they returned west empty handed was down to Hearts being stronger, fitter, and hungrier than at any point in the last 12 months.

The hosts scampered around after possession and burst forward with purpose whenever the opportunity arose, inspired by dominant performances from Michael Stewart, Audrius Ksanavicius and Jamie Mole. At times they resembled possessed fiends, and in the technical area was their very own Tasmanian – or should that be Transylvanian – Devil. Laszlo couldn't control himself even if he wanted to, hopping around, beating the dugout in frustration before letting himself go in the wake of Mikoliunas' winning strike.

It all made for enthralling entertainment and a stark contrast from last season's mediocrity. "It wasn't only the three points, it was seeing the team in a competitive game. They can stand up," said Laszlo. "Twice we came back from nothing and I saw the team spirit. We have spoken all the time about that – discipline and being together. The team understands what I want and now we don't have a gap between coach and team.

"This was a fantastic football game and I must give a big compliment to Motherwell. They played very good football and to win against a very good team is a fantastic feeling. If you win 7-0, 5-0 or 4-0, it's only a game.

"A lot of times, with Ferencvaros, in Uganda and with the Hungarian national team, people ask me why I am so emotional. I go with the game, I run with the players but it's important not to lose focus. If I am sad, I show it. If I am happy, I show it. If someone shows his feelings, it's not bad. I think about football, I live with the football. This is my passion, this is my work. The body language from every coach is most important.

"If you go in my dressing room, the players know if they have a problem they can look at me. They can tell from my body language 'oh, I must be stronger'. They wait for me not to be nervous or very happy. They like to see somebody from outside who can help them. I can't change me. I'm 44 and I think I die with this."

It would be advisable for supporters not to become overly excited after just one match, but there is little doubting Laszlo has imparted his trademark passion to the squad. From kick-off Hearts were transfixed on beginning their SPL campaign with victory.

Stewart produced a finish worthy of any striker to open the scoring on 25 minutes, completing a seamless passing move involving Ksanavicius and Andy Driver. Clarkson's equaliser from Hughes' cross was a consequence of the otherwise impressive Jason Thomson and Marius Zaliukas losing concentration at a Motherwell throw-in, but soon after Ksanavicius restored the advantage.

It took until the 80th minute for the second equaliser to arrive as Juho Makela suffered for ball control which would have drawn criticism in a public park. The Finn, on as substitute, was required to chase his first touch some 15 yards when taking a pass from defence and was promptly tackled. Clarkson collected to drive the ball beyond Steve Banks from 20 yards with the aid of a deflection.

As recently as May, Hearts would have surrendered there and then, but under Laszlo there exists renewed gutsiness. Barely 60 seconds later, Stewart seized possession and fed the advancing Mikoliunas for a ferocious 25-yard drive that rendered Graeme Smith helpless in the Motherwell goal.

"I saw the faces on the bench, everybody was happy," said Laszlo. "They told me that in the past years supporters did not enjoy these games, but my team was involved in a good football game. The people enjoyed this and I hope after the Rangers game we can take a positive result and more people will come to the stadium.

"I would like to see this team in the top six, we must think realistically. We cannot dream about UEFA Cup or Champions League, we must keep both feet on the ground. We have a very good direction and we must keep it."

The impulsive Hungarian certainly never allows emotions to compromise his professionalism, as Larry Kingston discovered when being replaced by Mikoliunas. "Everybody must learn that if he doesn't have a discipline he comes off and is finished," said Laszlo. "I changed Larry not because he had a bad game – he was one of the best guys on the field – but in the last five or six minutes he lost his discipline and for this he came off. Larry is a fantastic footballer and I will use him 100 per cent in the future. If we does a little bit more he can be an absolute star.

"I want every player to have not only discipline, he must keep the ball. Juho came on the field as a fresh guy. Okay, you can make a mistake but I don't like to see after the mistake you stay and you don't run behind the ball. This is not only Juho, there were about five players behind who could help."

Makela was the first person Laszlo confronted at full-time as the manager administered a bog-standard skelp round the lugs. Errors at both Motherwell goals would have irritated him but the visitors' performance justified at least one goal in any case. "We weren't played out of the game, we weren't second best and we're happy enough with our performance," said full-back Paul Quinn. "There are individual things we need to shore up but looking by the result, which sometimes you need to do in football, we're happy enough with some aspects of the game.

"Hearts will be high with a new manager and getting a win after a not-so-good season last year. They'll be up there or thereabouts I think regarding third place."

Of course, no Hearts match is complete without contentious refereeing decisions and, on Saturday's evidence, the new season is unlikely to prove any different. Iain Brines rightly cautioned Ksanavicius for diving in the first half after he fell deliberately over Stephen Craigan's outstretched leg in the penalty area. However, Clarkson escaped without punishment for doing similar at the opposite end when challenged by Lee Wallace. Chris Porter's dive late in the game also failed to prompt a yellow card.

"I know 100 per cent it was not his (Ksanavicius'] intention to get a penalty," explained Laszlo. "If you played football it's in your nature and if somebody comes maybe you go down, although a lot of players don't do this. He got a yellow card for this and in the future he must learn to be more careful. I don't think I will punish the player but he must be careful because this is a rule. If you would like to cheat the referee you maybe have the penalty or the yellow card, or maybe a red card. I think the referee did a good job, he was very fair."

Hearts fans' bemoaned Brines' display but of far more importance are the first impressions of the new manager. Csaba Laszlo has effected an almost instant transformation at Tynecastle, a start he will fully intend to continue.

Taken from the Scotsman

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