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Csaba Laszlo <-auth None auth-> William Collum
16 of 021 ----- L SPL H

Handling of Nade had team at Heart, says Laszlo

Laszlo defends his decision to take off irate French forward and leave Jambos without recognised striker after stalemate with Terrors
NO-ONE could ever accuse Csaba Laszlo of indecision but one moment of this match illustrated his meticulous attention to detail better than any. Shortly after the half-hour mark, as all around him lost control, the Hearts manager conducted an instantyet cleverly thought-out substitution which could prove to be one of the shrewdest of the SPL season.

Withdrawing Christian Nade initially appeared an act of folly, for it left Hearts to play the remaining two thirds of the match without a recognised striker. Nade had been cautioned seconds earlier for lunging wildly at Dundee United's Paul Dixon without any attempt to play the ball. He then remonstrated with visiting manager Craig Levein and consequently found himself on the end of Laszlo's hook.

As substitute David Obua trotted on to fill the Frenchman's void, Laszlo's vision became clear. He recognised Nade had been fortuitous in averting a straight red card and sensed simmering emotions within the player. He needed protecting. With an away visit to a resurgent Aberdeen awaiting Hearts this weekend, the team needed their only in-form forward available and not serving an automatic suspension for an ordering off. All of this remained uppermost in Laszlo's mind as others around him bawled their frustrations across the technical area.

"A lot of people think I'm a nice guy and I have understanding for everything. No, no, I don't have understanding in my job for indiscipline," explained the Hungarian. "I spoke to Christian and he understands. I must protect my team and my player. If the referee had seen his frustration, he could have given him a red card for his next challenge.

"Christian did not train last week until Friday because he was sick. He is a player who needs training for his performance. You saw this was not the Christian we saw before. Tactically he did not do what we need him to do so I took him from the pitch. I cannot think about one name, I must think about my team. You must make a decision and I don't think this was a negative."

Nade was clearly incensed by the substitution and shrugged off his manager's consolatory pat on the back. He apologised to Levein afterwards but at the time the pair appeared ready to slug it out on the touchline in a confrontation that would have been worth Tynecastle's admission fee alone. "I was jumping about, waving my arms and shouting," admitted Levein. "The referee stopped me and dealt with the incident. Paul is fine. I was really concerned about him at first."

Like many amongst the 16,442 crowd – Hearts' biggest home attendance of the season – Dixon felt Nade deserved an ordering off. "I passed the ball to Morgaro Gomis and then looked up and saw him charging in," he said. "I couldn't get out the way. I think it was a red card. He caught me right above the knee. I think he was taken off for his own safety."

For all his expertise and quick-thinking, Laszlo's choice of replacement was open to question come full-time. Obua might have been playing out of position but basic necessities such as energy and desire were again absent from his repertoire. At one point he argued back following criticism from nearby supporters. When he fell six minutes from time clutching his thigh, the jeers told their own story and he was replaced by Deividas Cesnauskis.

"I am unhappy with his situation, he has the same injury problem he had before," said Laszlo. "I don't think he had a bad game but I hope he recovers very quick and his injury is not serious."

Jamie Mole remained an unused substitute despite the dearth of available strikers, confirmation of his descent down Laszlo's pecking order. "We sometimes play without strikers but we don't have so good strikers," continued the manager. "We are dangerous from any position. Andy Driver had two very good situations and Berra had one chance. In the first half a pass from Larry Kingston to David Obua looked a 100 per cent goal.

"We used these chances against Celtic and Rangers but not against Dundee United. This was the key. Sometimes for the supporters it's not nice to see us go back and wait a little bit but this was due to Dundee United's tactics, sometimes we had to do it. I think it was a good football game, good publicity for Scottish football. You had two teams on good runs at the moment. We can't win every game but we had two or three possibilities to score."

An error by Dixon allowed Driver to fashion the game's best opening on 67 minutes. The full-back's pass landed at the Englishman's feet but, having left Willo Flood standing during a 40-yard run, his tame right-footed finish nestled in Lukasz Zaluska's arms. Jon Daly, the Dundee United striker, then indulged in profligacy of a similar standard in nodding substitute Danny Swanson's corner wide despite no marker being in attendance. Previous to those incidents came a potentially pivotal moment as Hearts claimed for what looked a clear penalty during a period of concerted pressure. Driver delivered a low, left-footed cross and Larry Kingston's first-time shot appeared to strike Garry Kenneth on the arm. Referee William Collum did not agree.

A draw is no disaster for the European aspirations of either Laszlo or Levein. United and Hearts remain joint third in the SPL following a fair result from a game that remained intriguing if unremarkable throughout. "I arrived having read reports of Hearts' recent matches and the last thing I was going to do was play into their hands," admitted Levein. "They have fantastic players on the counter-attack so we set up a certain way. I'm not coming down here to make the running against a very good Hearts side and play into their hands."

Taken from the Scotsman

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