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<-Page <-Team Sat 30 Aug 2008 Hamilton Academical 1 Hearts 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth None auth-> Craig Thomson
[D Lyle 80]
5 of 027 Marius Zaliukas 18 ;Andrew Driver 58 L SPL A

Laszlo's team need hearty recovery from cup upset on visit to Hamilton

THE defeat by Airdrie United on Wednesday night was not the first that Csaba Laszlo has suffered since becoming Hearts manager. But it was the first real setback, and marked the end of the honeymoon for the likeable former Ferencvaros coach.
The 2-0 defeat at Ibrox was predictable and no disgrace. Before the season started Laszlo said Hearts were one of four or five clubs in contention for third place, and recognised that work had to be done before they could hope to challenge the Old Firm. So few eyelids were batted after the loss to Rangers, and the wins against Motherwell and St Mirren which bracketed that match were reassuring signs for the Tynecastle supporters.

The Cooperative Insurance Cup penalty shootout loss to Airdrie, on the other hand, was far from reassuring, and Laszlo knows that his team need a good result at Hamilton today to get back on their feet. "It's important for us to get our confidence back," he said yesterday. "We can play football, but we need goals. We must score."

The coach has insisted since arriving in Edinburgh that the club needs a new striker, and he still hopes to sign another in addition to Mike Tullberg, who should be fit to make his debut in a fortnight. But Hearts did still manage five goals in their previous two home games, whereas against Airdrie they failed to score at all.

When interviewed at Riccarton yesterday, both Laszlo and Eggert Jonsson, who played at right-back, said that penalties were "a lottery". Given the time he spent in German football, the manager, for one, should know they are anything but. Practice improves performance, in penalties as in every other aspect of football, and it is a fair bet that by the time the Scottish Cup comes round Laszlo will have conducted a few spot-kick sessions in training.

Besides their missed chances and penalties, Hearts may simply have been unprepared to deal with a team who put as much fight into the game as Airdrie did. Laszlo is still a relative novice in Scottish football, as is his German assistant. They did not know what to expect from Kenny Black's side.

At least now Laszlo knows the danger that clubs he has hardly heard of can present. As he takes his team to Hamilton this afternoon, he is aware that promoted Accies will present a similar sort of threat to Airdrie.

They are very dangerous at home, and I saw them beat Dundee United," he said. "They want to show they may be a small team, but they have a big heart."

Laszlo's own players have to be similarly big-hearted. There are some, such as Michael Stewart, who will consistently show leadership, but too many hide away all too readily. When you are not consistently self-confident, you do not play consistently. This is a deficiency which Laszlo must deal with.

One thing he plans to do to this end is establish, and stick with, a first-choice line-up. Not necessarily the same 11 men every week, but at least a recognised majority of the team.

With Ferencvaros when we were in the Champions League qualifiers I always changed, but we had so many games then, and for this you need a big squad," he recalled. "Here we only have the league and the Scottish Cup.

At the moment the squad is strong. We have players who don't change, who need automatic (selection]. I don't like to change too often."

Having a settled line-up would contrast with the tinkering which occurred all too often at Tynecastle last season, and Laszlo ducked the question when asked if he thought the club's owner, Vladimir Romanov, would be happy with stability of selection. "Let's talk about Michael Stewart," he said, by way of suggesting a change of subject.

Presuming Tullberg comes up with the goods and between them Jamie Mole, Gary Glen and Christian Nade manage to offer a bit of support up front, Laszlo's priority will be finding the best blend in midfield. He is at present keen to find out if Jonsson can cut it at right-back, and his
omission would leave Stewart, Laryea Kingston, David Obua, Ruben Palazuelos, Andy Driver, Deividas Cesnauskis, Saulius Mikoliunas, new Polish signing Adrian Mrowiec and even long-term injury case Bruno Aguiar vying for four places in the centre of the park. That's a congested midfield by anyone's standards, and one Laszlo has to sort out.

Hamilton manager Billy Reid has added three new faces to his side's squad. Twenty-year-old former Lyon midfielder Stephen Ettien has signed on until the end of the season along with countryman Michael Videira, 22, who has joined until January. The final piece in the Accies jigsaw is Ipswich Town's 20-year-old Northern Ireland Under-21 international defender Chris Casement, who joins the New Douglas Park club on loan until the end of December.

Casement was part of the Ipswich side that lifted the FA Youth Cup in 2005. All three players are available for today's match against Hearts.

Taken from the Scotsman

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