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<-Page <-Team Sat 31 Jan 2009 Hamilton Academical 2 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Eddie Smith
[S Mensing 11] ;[S Mensing pen 51]
35 of 039 ----- L SPL A

Hearts boss Laszlo orders forwards to make things happen

PREDICTIONS of a fire sale at Tynecastle proved unfounded yesterday as the transfer window creaked shut with just one major departure, Christophe Berra joining Wolves in a £2.3million deal.
Projected arrivals did not materialise as intended and, instead of signing a striker, Hearts freed their most underachieving one as Juho Makela severed ties with the club.

That leaves Csaba Laszlo to unearth goals from any combination of Christian Nade, Gary Glen or Calum Elliot for now. The manager knows precisely what he needs from the above triumvirate: Killer instinct and the desire to maximise any penalty-box opportunity.

He knows that, until a proven goalscorer arrives, he must endeavour to instil greater intuition in those already at his disposal. He identifies Liverpool's Fernando Torres as a shining example of the natural drive required to become a truly predatory marksman.

Asking the likes of Nade to emulate "El Niño" might seem a little on the far side of fetched but, if you must learn, it might as well be from the best, according to Laszlo.

"If you saw Torres' first goal against Chelsea on Sunday, it was all down to movement," enthused the Hungarian. "The ball came short (from Fabio Aurelio] and he knew he had to take two steps forward and head. This is what I want. A striker must be confident to go in the channel and be available, to use his head. We can work in training but I learned something in life and in football and I always tell this: If you don't go where it is painful, you can never win. You cannot wait for the ball on a plate before you score.

"Torres' instinct tells him that, if he goes in there, it is painful for the defensive player. If you go where you can inflict pain you can score and win, and we must learn this. Nobody serves chances for you on a plate and says, 'here, take it'. It's not possible."

His theory is sound enough and with Nade, Glen and Elliot all under 25, the potential for development is there. But Laszlo suspects that adding another dimension to his forward line may involve a new face, hence his pursuit of the Recreativo de Huelva striker Ersen Martin as the transfer deadline approached. "At the moment, we talk too much about (new] strikers and Elliot, Glen and Nade think 'oh, we are not good enough'. This is not true, I like all three players," he said.

"All three of them are young and have the possibility to develop. We are dangerous from some positions but the strikers must understand their job is to score goals. If you score goals, nobody can touch you, nobody can talk about a new striker. This is what I need to see in training, the strikers must try to be more focused and to be better. In football, life is very quick. If you have one chance you must use the chance.

"At this moment, we are not getting enough goals. Chris Porter did not perform fantastically for Motherwell this season but he still scored nine goals. You always need this kind of striker."

Hearts' efforts towards recruiting an extra forward took up most of Laszlo's weekend as he, majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov and sport director Anatoli Korobochka explored a number of options to reinforce the squad. "We tried a lot of things, Mr Romanov, Anatoli and myself," continued Laszlo. "Don't think we were not active but the biggest problem is simple. Like many clubs in the UK, Heart of Midlothian cannot pay high transfer fees. We have our line which we do not like to cross.

"We had discussions with some players and they had the possibility to come and play in the Scottish league but, if somebody looks for money and not development, he does not have anything to bring to my team. It is better to work with young and hungry players.

"In the summer, we would like to build a new team because contracts will run out and people will leave us. We must look at who goes. I think in the summer players like Andy Driver, Larry Kingston, David Obua and others, if they perform well, will have the possibility to move. We must look at who moves and who stays, so the rest of this season is very important for us. If the progress is the same as the last six months, and we are in the top six and maybe go far in the Scottish Cup, we can decide much easier about which players we hold and which direction we go in. We want a good mixture of young and experienced players.

"We have character in the team but I want the team to be stronger. We can talk about Michael Stewart, Karipidis, Eggert Jonsson, Lee Wallace, Zaliukas, Bruno and even Larry Kingston. These players have all had bad and good times but we must stabilise. The best example, for me, is Stewart. He showed on Saturday (against Hamilton] that he was back after two or three bad weeks. I would like to see the same from Larry Kingston and I will help him.

"We are in a good position and we need to make good decisions about which players we keep and which ones we bring in during the summer. It is not only a question of money. You can get a lot of players for small money if you open your eyes and look in the market. If we do our jobs and search I think we can get the players I need."

One area which will not exercise the manager's mind is left-back. The aforementioned Wallace has grown in stature under Laszlo's tutelage and is now a mainstay of the Hearts defence. Inexplicably, he did not earn an international call-up yesterday when national coach George Burley named a 26-man squad for a Scotland squad gathering in St Andrews next week. Laszlo believes the omission is merely delaying the inevitable.

"Lee is not in the squad now, this is the decision of the national coach, but I think at some point this year he will be part of the squad. I don't like to push anybody into the national team but the national coach is always welcome at Tynecastle. He can see Lee Wallace's talent and he can ask me everything about him. I know Lee Wallace, in a very short time, will be a part of the national team if his development continues.

"I have seen a lot of Scotland's games and definitely Lee has a future with the national team. His development over the last six months has been fantastic, and the bonus is he scores goals. He is fast, strong and tactically he has learned very quickly. Maybe mentally he needs to be stronger, but Wallace, Berra and Driver were the most developed players over the last six months.

"When I came here Lee was very shy. If I asked him something he ran away. Now he gives his opinion and his mental strength has improved. He used to come to training and leave straight away when we finished. Now he stays at Riccarton and tries to develop, sometimes with me, sometimes by himself on the field. I see him smiling in the dressing-room and if you ask him a question he gives you an answer because the thinks football. Sometimes he comes and asks me: 'What can I do better?'.

"When he got the red card after the match at Aberdeen he was very sad. I told him it takes mental toughness to go and look over this problem you had with the referee, to accept sometimes that in life things are not positive for you.

"If he doesn't stop his development and stays strong mentally, then with these things coming together he can be a complete player."

Taken from the Scotsman

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