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Hearts 1 Aberdeen 1

From DEREK McGREGOR at Tynecastle

Published: 27 Oct 2008

IF ever there was a game for a manager to discover if he still had his players on board it was here.

Rain-lashed, wind-battered Tynecastle with a typically raucous atmosphere that only classic old venue can generate.

And Jimmy Calderwood — with five defeats in nine SPL games — got the right answer.

Aberdeen had won at Falkirk the week before, a decent result for sure.

But this was an even bigger test for under-fire Caldo.

And made all the harder for him by fevered talk pre-kick-off, sparked by a radio bulletin, that he was facing the sack within 48-hours and to be replaced by Pittodrie legend Mark McGhee.

Defeat would have certainly turned the screw on Calderwood.

But his players delivered for him and they had every reason to feel satisfied with the point they took back north.

Gutsy stopper Zander Diamond dug in as much as anyone, weathering a Jambos storm and later speaking up for a manager who wears his heart on his sleeve.

The Dons got the draw courtesy of a fine Darren Mackie strike and commendable refereeing by Steve Conroy who seems to endure controversy whenever he handles Hearts games.

Diamond said: “It’s just the home record that’s letting us down. You see the performances the last couple of weeks away from home.

“We know we need to take that into the home form.

“Regardless of what the fans are shouting, as professionals we need to take it on board.

“But any talk of the gaffer being under pressure is just nonsense. We know we’ve not been firing on all cylinders at home — but it will change. If we can do that then we’re not going to be too far off top three or four.


“We play for the gaffer every week. But you saw the boys out there. It was blood and thunder and everybody had to stand up and be counted.

“I don’t think any of the boys let him down. Coming to Tynecastle is always hard, with the crowd right on top of you.

“But we showed we’ve got the players and the character to get out what people are saying is a hole.

“Look at the league after Christmas — then start drawing the conclusions about who’s going to be sacked.

“We heard the talk about the manager after the game. But any talk he is going to get the sack is just ludicrous.

“I don’t see why he can’t take this team forward. You see the budget he’s had over the years. He’s always brought in players who have strengthened the team.

“We had a big loss last season with players leaving under freedom of contract.

“But the funds have been there for the boss this year and he’s strengthened well.

“It’s a case of us working on the training field and taking the away form into the home form.

“Two wins and it could all change, with no one talking about the gaffer being under pressure. We know what’s at stake.

“He knows what he’s got in the dressing room and we know his ability to get the best out of us. We’ll back him all the way.”

Calderwood refused to cower in his dugout as the weather did its worst. Instead, he prowled about his technical area, his usual hyper-active self, getting soaked and screaming at his players from first minute until last.

Diamond added: “That just shows you the kind of guy he is. He kicks every ball.

“He rants and raves, but you kind of blank it out. That’s just his style of management and we’re not going to complain.”

Calderwood responded to the ‘sacking’ report and said: “I know if that was ever going to be the case at Aberdeen there are enough honest people who would tell me.”

Mackie took advantage of a Marius Zaliukas blunder to fire the Dons ahead. But Lee Wallace hit a fine equaliser just seven minutes later.

Aberdeen though rattled the woodwork twice through Jared Hodgkiss and Lee Miller before Conroy’s penalty flare-up with six minutes remaining when Jambos ace Michael Stewart tumbled theatrically, but didn’t get the verdict after the ref initially gave the spot-kick.

The Sun
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