London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 13 Dec 2008 Celtic 1 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Telegraph ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Roddy Forsyth auth-> Charlie Richmond
[S McManus 79]
26 of 032 Andrew Driver 23 L SPL A

Hearts players put faith in owners as they wait for win bonuses

Celtic (1) 1 Hearts (0) 1

Roddy Forsyth

Hearts players - whose wages have been paid late twice this season - are still waiting on their win bonuses, despite being assured 10 days ago that the matter would be resolved soon.

The club's finances remain shrouded in obscurity and the first-team squad – whose impressive recent form was extended with a 1-1 draw away to Celtic on Saturday – are operating on faith, according to Andy Driver.

The midfield player – who has been watched by England under-21s coach Stuart Pearce – said: "We haven't had our bonuses but they've said we will get them. If the day happens that we don't get them we'll think again but until then we'll trust in it.

"We don't know what the financial situation is – nobody knows anything. We've had to put a lot of trust in them. The trust is there because we've maybe been paid late, but we've been paid and everything they've said they were going to do, they've done, so we can't go around shouting this or that. We've just got to keep our heads down and win games.

"Being battered from pillar to post has given us a siege mentality. I don't think anything in the papers affects us any more.

"When we read things in the papers about the finance we just laugh them off because that's what we've come to expect, but it's brought the team together and we turn it around and use it as a positive."

Hearts have now gone six games unbeaten having beaten Rangers at home prior to drawing with Celtic, but the painful paradox for Hearts fans is that the adversity which has bonded the side looks likely to be the agent of their break-up if, as expected, the club seek to generate cash by selling players during the January transfer window.

Central defender Christophe Berra has attracted attention from south of the border, as has Driver, who has been motivated by Pearce's presence at games.

"It gives you confidence that you're doing something right. I just have to keep doing it because I don't know what he thinks. I spoke to him last year but then I got injured and it all went quiet – one of those hard luck stories," said the midfield player.

Driver also believes that there is a growing realisation within the Tynecastle squad of their potential under the colourful, but effective, leadership of Csaba Laszlo – although Driver laughed off a dressing room tale that the manager had delivered Saturday's tactical instruction using chocolate Santas.

"No he didn't – where did you hear that?" Driver asked amid mirth. "The results have turned round and against Celtic we had a battling spirit. The manager's obviously been a big help but the team has come closer together and I think we've realised how good we can really be.

"We came to Celtic Park and in the first half we were the better team and created a lot of chances, which shows the difference from last year when we lost 5-0. The manager has made a big, big difference.

"He would like to bring in a few new players and if he brings in a couple more we could go a lot further. It's probably our weakness at the moment that we don't have the depth.

"We have a lot of quality and we have to concentrate on consistency. Our aim at the start of the season was to be in the top six, but now we think we can get into Europe. We're a very hard team to break down. We have a top class defence and we go into games knowing that if we can snatch one goal we have a very good chance of winning."

One goal was not sufficient to keep Celtic at bay on Saturday as the champions staged a second half revival that culminated in a bombardment of the Hearts penalty area, although it was testimony to the Tynecastle defence that they conceded their first corner kick of the game 20 minutes from full time.

Stephen McManus's headed equaliser secured the draw that keeps Celtic four points ahead of Rangers, but the home team also relied on a redemptive save from Artur Boruc – who spilt a long-range shot into his net in the defeat by Hibs last week – to stop Driver netting what would probably have been a decisive second goal.

"I had a good view of it," said Scott Brown, whose frantic pursuit of Driver could not prevent the Hearts player delivering his shot. "As we've seen before, Artur is a great goalie – he makes the big saves and that's why Celtic fans love him. I'm sure the gaffer loves him as well."

Driver credited Boruc, too, but felt that his own finish could have been more effective. "I was running and just hit it and he got down well to his left. He's a top goalkeeper and he's not going to turn bad overnight.

"Running through one on one against him is daunting because he's a big guy and a top quality goalie. The boys were finding me well and I was surprised to get so much space. I probably should have done better at the second one. He saved it but I probably should have scored."

Taken from

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