London Hearts Supporters Club

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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Hugh Macdonald auth-> Charlie Richmond
[S McManus 79]
24 of 032 Andrew Driver 23 L SPL A

Paypackets may be light but Driver chases Euro bonus

HUGH MacDONALD December 15 2008

The trouble with Hearts is that the talk about pay can detract from the discussion about play.

Andrew Driver, one of the outstanding performers in maroon in Saturday's impressive collective effort at Celtic Park, had to field questions about his paypacket before considering what went on on the field of play.

"We have not had the bonuses but they have said they are going to pay them, so we are putting our trust in that," said the young Englishman in response to inquiries about the latest saga at Vladimir Romanov's Edinburgh outpost.

There was almost a forlorn note to Driver's "nobody knows anything", but the winger added: "They maybe paid us late, but they paid us. We won't go shouting this or that, we just have to keep our heads down and keep winning games."

Driver, who scored Hearts goal on Saturday, even claimed that the negative publicity had paid a dividend. "Being battered from pillar to post has given us the siege mentality that has got everyone together," he said. "Nothing affects us any more. We read things in the newspaper and just laugh them off because that is what we have come to expect. We have turned it round and made it a positive."

Hearts now have the look of a side who could finish third in the league. "Our aim at the start of the season was top six, but we are quietly confident now that we can go for Europe," said Driver.

He added: "We are a hard team to break down; we have a top-class defence. We know that if we snatch a goal then we have a good chance of winning."

Csaba Laszlo, who talks the way Jack Kerouac wrote, has fashioned a team that has a prosaic approach. Hristos Karipidis, Marius Zalickas and Christophe Berra form an impressive lock to a resolute defence. Berra is the best defender in Scotland on this form.

Laryea Kingston, who was fortunate to stay on the park, and Bruno Aguiar provide the subtlety that is complemented by the brute force of Christian Nade and the pace and incisiveness of Driver.

"We have suddenly realised how good a team we can really be," said Driver in the Celtic Park media room in the immediate aftermath of an intriguing match. "We have come here today and in the first half we were the better team. We have created a lot of chances."

Driver, though, was denied what would almost certainly have been a winning goal when Artur Boruc made a fine save to his left after a Gary Caldwell and Andreas Hinkel mix-up left the winger clear on goal with Hearts winning 1-0.

"He has taken a lot of stick, but you have to remember he was the top goalie in the Euro championships," said Driver of the Polish No.1. "He is not going to turn bad overnight."

He confessed: "Running through one-on-one with him is pretty daunting, because he is a big guy. I should have done better with the second one."

Another "daunting" experience for Driver, who turned 21 last month, is being watched by Stuart Pearce, the England Under-21 coach. "You have to perform week in, week out with those kind of guys watching. But it must give you confidence that you are doing something right," he said. Driver is certainly doing that.

Both he and Berra seem destined to pick up larger pay-packets in more stable surroundings.

Taken from the Herald

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