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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Coleen Paterson auth-> Eddie Smith
[S Fletcher 2]
6 of 032 Bruno Aguiar 41 L SPL A

Firepower key to the derby, says ex-Hearts hero Sandy

SANDY CLARK lost just two Edinburgh derbies in his ten-year career with Hearts as both a player and a manager – and he's hoping his old side will be celebrating another victory this weekend.
But the former Jambos boss, now working with Jimmy Calderwood and Jimmy Nicholl at Aberdeen, admits that Hearts' lack of firepower could stop them in their tracks. The Tynecastle side scored three on the opening day of the season in a 3-2 victory ove
r Motherwell but have found the net just seven more times in their seven SPL games since then, recording just three wins in that time.

Manager Csaba Laszlo has opted for one up front in recent games, although Mike Tullberg and Jamie Mole may be given the nod when the Jambos travel to Easter Road on Sunday.

And Clark believes that the decision over who – and how many – to play up front could dictate who wins the game.

He said: "I was lucky that, in the ten years I had at Hearts, I think we only lost to Hibs twice.

"It was an incredible time and obviously there were a lot of draws involved, but we won more than we lost and it was great for the team's confidence. It was fantastic for the fans as well because they had the best of it, they had the gloating rights if you like and they enjoyed it for all it was worth.

"We had a bit of a hoodoo over them at that point and I remember Alex Miller, who was in charge of them at that time, not being able to buy a win against us. It was just one of those things.

"But it was great for us and as a result I have got lots of good memories both as a player and manager to look back on from those games.

"You have got to win football games, regardless of who you are playing but obviously Hibs-Hearts games are very special for everyone involved.

"It is going to be a hard one to predict.

"You either get a great game or one where both sides cancel each other out and it turns into a dour affair.

"I hope that we get a good game, though, and from a personal point of view, I hope that Hearts get the win they're looking for. It'll be tight though.

"I haven't seen much of Hearts this season but Aberdeen played Hibs a couple of weeks ago and I thought that they were lucky to get the win.

"If Hearts can field their strongest side then I think they can take all three points.

"But to win a game of football you need to score goals and that's something Hearts have struggled with of late because I think they have tried a couple of options.

"You're just hoping that you get a wee bit of quality from your striker or strikers, whoever that may be.

"In the game that he played against Aberdeen Derek Riordan was immense. He scored two goals, maybe without doing an awful lot else but it's a striker with that kind of ability that can win you games.

"If you've got a striker of that quality in your side then it can make all the difference."

Sunday will be Laszlo's first Edinburgh derby and a number of players on either side will also be experiencing the atmosphere for the first time.

Clark knows just how the Hearts manager will be feeling when he emerges from the tunnel at Easter Road, but he insisted that the former Uganda boss should treat the clash just like any other.

"I think you have got to treat it like any other game," he said. "Obviously the atmosphere is different because the fans are really up for it from the word go, but it is all about how the players react to it.

"As a manager you can only work with the players in training and give instructions from the side. Once they cross that white line there is only so much you can do.

"The only concern I have is that when I was at the club the majority of the players were Scottish and they knew exactly what the derby was about and they had a real passion for the game – they played for the jersey and wanted to win the game.

"From the manager's point of view he has to pick players who will roll their sleeves up and are willing to get stuck in and work hard because you can't carry passengers in games like this.

"If you let it, then it will catch up with you in the game, the excitement and the atmosphere but they are professional players and they should be able to handle it. I am sure they will be well warned about it so it shouldn't be a big problem."

Clark believes that this could be one of the tightest league seasons in years but is hoping that his own side can string together a few results over the coming weeks to haul themselves back up the table.

The Dons haven't had the best of starts to their SPL campaign and Calderwood's men find themselves under increasing pressure in the wake of defeats to Hibs, Celtic, Dundee United and SPL new boys Hamilton Accies.

But while they find themselves rooted to the foot of the league table right now, they are still only six points short of third-placed Kilmarnock and Clark is hoping the Pittodrie side can make a dent in that this weekend when they travel to face Falkirk.

He added: "At the minute Aberdeen are sitting at the bottom of the table but if you look at the big picture, we are only six points off third place. That shows you just how tight it is going to be this season.

"If you look at Hamilton, they have been a breath of fresh air, their whole attitude has been wonderful and they have really given teams a tough time.

"The same with St Mirren, who beat Rangers a fortnight ago and these are teams that a lot of people probably thought would struggle this season.

"I think that just shows how tight it will be between the teams in the middle of the table, although it tends to level itself out a bit later in the campaign.

"If teams at the bottom can beat the likes of Rangers and Celtic then it proves that every team is capable of beating the next in this league and I think it is going to be a great season."

Taken from the Scotsman

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