London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 15 Nov 2008 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Anthony Brown auth-> Mike Tumilty
1 of 020 Bruno Aguiar 22 L SPL A

Ruben's back in the picture for Hearts

WHAT a difference a week makes. Prior to Hearts' visit to St Mirren last Saturday, the Tynecastle side seemed to be meandering towards another implosion.
Less than seven days later, they could almost be described as buoyant, as they prepare to lock horns with Inverness Caley in the Highlands.

On the back of a five-game run without a victory which saw them slip to eighth in the SPL before the trip to Paisley, things could have become messy for Csaba Laszlo and his men, especially after Michael Stewart was sent off in the first half at Love Street.

But, after grinding out the most satisfying of 1-0 wins against the Buddies, Hearts then proceeded to secure their second success in five days against Hamilton, the league's bottom team, at Tynecastle on Wednesday evening.

While neither encounter could be considered easy on the eye, the bottom line is that Hearts showed enough resolve to achieve their objective from both assignments and, as a result, now find themselves sitting pretty in fourth place, just two points behind the league's form team, Dundee United.

As Laszlo's resurgent players arrive at Caledonian Stadium tomorrow bidding to make it three league wins in a row for the first time since September 2006, they will do so in the knowledge that the last two victories have been garnered from the type of matches which would probably have slipped from their grasp last season.

As a result, instead of fretting over the boos which greeted their poor second-half display against Accies the other night, Hearts' players will derive belief from the fact they were able to see out a positive result despite being some way off their best.

Ruben Palazuelos, whose return to the Hearts midfield has coincided with those two victories, is all too aware that points count for far more than dominant football.

The 25-year-old Spaniard must have told the Evening News no less than ten times in a ten-minute interview that "the three points is the most important".

He said: "The Hamilton game was no good for us and the fans, but the three points is the most important.

"Six points in two games is good for confidence and now we go to Inverness looking to make it nine points.

"To win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0, it doesn't matter what the score is as long as you get the three points.

"We are in a good position in the table and now we need to make sure we stay there."

If Hearts are to continue on an upward trajectory, a sense of perspective is needed to ensure unrealistic expectations don't overburden a team which is still finding its way under Laszlo.

While a club of Hearts' standing should always fancy themselves to beat teams like Hamilton and Inverness, fans must realise that the Gorgie club no longer possess players of the quality to swat these teams aside as if they aren't there.

For example, the likes of Palazuelos and Christos Karipidis on paper have no divine right to boss a midfield which possesses such prodigious talents as young Accies pair James McCarthy and James McArthur, or, for that matter, Caley's hard-working enforcers, Russell Duncan and Ian Black.

In the days of Paul Hartley and Julien Brellier, perhaps, but not now.

It must also be recalled that just last season Hearts managed to beat Gretna, the league's whipping boys, only once in four attempts. Already this season, they have seen off Accies, their replacements in the SPL, twice in two meetings.

Laszlo's side, which contains no obvious goalscorer, is also two points better off this term than a team which possessed the potent Andrius Velicka were at this stage last season.

Had they got the rub of the green against either Hibs or Aberdeen in recent weeks, Hearts could easily be sitting in a tie for third. While off-field matters continue to cause unease for supporters, it is impossible to escape the fact that progress, albeit tentative, is being made on the field under Laszlo despite the fact he is working with largely the same group of players that suffered the ignominy of finishing in eighth place last term.

Hearts fans who booed the team off after an admittedly wretched second-half on Wednesday night should also remind themselves that their team ended up with three valuable points against a side which has already proved good enough to beat Aberdeen and Dundee United this term.

That the Tynecastle side were left hanging on against a fired-up Accies side should obviously give Laszlo food for thought, but the fact they managed to see the game out and keep a second straight clean sheet ought to have been enough to mute the boo boys.

The likes of Christophe Berra and Marius Zaliukas, who were in commanding form at the back, would be entirely justified in feeling a tad irked as they made for home with jeers ringing in their ears on Wednesday night.

Regardless of the second-half lull and the subsequent supporters' reaction, however, Laszlo's men will travel up the A9 in the knowledge that they have the beating of Inverness after a Saulius Mikoliunas goal secured another of those hard-fought 1-0 wins at Tynecastle back in September.

Caley's poor home form – they have taken only five points from a possible 21 at Caledonian Stadium – coupled with the fact Hearts won 3-0 on their last venture to the Highlands back in March should also allow Hearts' travelling support to venture north with optimism.

With Christian Nade full of confidence after his swashbuckling hour-long display against Accies and the defence looking steady enough, the Edinburgh side will be reliant on their midfield functioning better if they are to see off a side who won 2-1 against Hibs at Easter Road last weekend.

"We found it hard in the midfield against Hamilton because they had three players in the centre," said Palazuelos.

"It is a relief to be back in the team, but I will need to wait and see what the manager decides for Inverness because Michael Stewart is back.

"I hope to keep my place though, because I get confidence from playing."

Regardless of who Laszlo sends out to do battle tomorrow, no Hearts player will contest Palazuelos' insistence that "three points is the most important".

Taken from the Scotsman

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