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Csaba Laszlo <-auth None auth-> Charlie Richmond
Balogh Janos [S Fletcher 14] Soulemayne Bamba
12 of 021 ----- L SPL A

Hearts boss proves the master of diplomacy

Csaba refuses to lambast any of his players for their derby loss but knows full well where the problems lie for the team – and how to remedy them
IF Csaba Laszlo has a skill which will guide Hearts all the way to Europe this season, it is that of man-management. He trudged wearily out of Easter Road on Saturday, dejected by derby defeat but sharp enough in the mind to recognise that the player s slumped on the coach he was boarding will still dictate his and Hearts' fate this season.

He could have lambasted their profligacy in front of goal against Hibernian. Lord knows he was entitled to. Except he didn't. He could have criticised goalkeeper Janos Balogh for being sent off and consequently suspended for Saturday's trip to Ibrox. Except he didn't. Instead, he delivered calculated comments which betrayed his message in a controlled fashion. It only required one glance towards the visiting technical area on Saturday to discover what Laszlo thought of Christian Nade's finishing prowess. Yet he did not round on the Frenchman, or anyone else, during the post-match press conference. Players generally react accordingly when treated with due care by their manager, and few are more protective than Laszlo.

His measured, unruffled manner will ensure he continues to get a response from his players throughout the remaining nine games of the league campaign, and remain a contender for European qualification in his first season with a team that languished in eighth place last year.

"It is not nice when you lose a game and three points," said the Hungarian. "The game is finished, I don't like to criticise nobody but we had a lot of chances and this has been the problem all the season. We had the possibility to score but we did not. We hit a post and the crossbar. The goalkeeper one or two times made good saves. You cannot win every game but you must try to win.

"In the second half, in the 45 minutes, we had about 35 minutes in the opponents' field but we did not have the luck. This is the difference between professional football and amateur football. If you need five or six chances, this is very bad. You don't have that time. If you have a chance you must score."

Dominating play at Easter Road will have encouraged Laszlo and the travelling support as it betrayed an element of control amidst the Edinburgh derby madness. However it brought scant reward, for the inability to convert any of a multitude of chances ultimately proved costly. Those sentiments have, of course, been said and written repeatedly this season. They were buried beneath the recent euphoria created by victories over Dundee United and Motherwell which have edged the Tynecastle club ever closer to Europe. On Saturday, they rose to prominence again, as Nade will know only too well.

The Frenchman is unlikely to relish this week's video analysis session at Riccarton, in fact he might be found cowering in the corner when the lights go up afterwards. A brute of a man to contend with, he shouldered the lone striking role commendably for Hearts until it involved finishing. Then the old demons returned, ones which evidently frustrate Nade as much as anyone.

One-on-one with Grzegorz Szamotulski in the first half, he dallied when a first-time shot might have been the best option. He also had an attempt blocked by Rob Jones from Lee Wallace's cutback and, in the second half, saw a header rebound off the crossbar.

"We must not only talk about Christian Nade," continued Laszlo. "He tried but he did not have the killer instinct and took too many touches on the ball, but we lose the game together. Christian Nade has scored a lot of goals here. I am not angry with Christian but if he has the chance in the future he must be more focused to score."

Although Derek Riordan had cracked a 30-yarder off Balogh's upright before the deadlock was broken, Steven Fletcher's solitary goal probably came against the balance of play. Andy Driver in particular proved problematic to Hibs during the opening period and the hosts would have been relieved to see him withdrawn with a hamstring complaint on 26 minutes.

By then they were 1-0 ahead after Fletcher's effort from Alan O'Brien's cross had looped unexpectedly over Balogh and into the net. "This was very easy for the striker," said Laszlo. "The two defence players (Eggert Jonsson and Christos Karipidis] – one stood forward and the other behind. In the middle was the opponent without any pressure and this is definitely very bad. We talk about our striker but in this moment our defence made a big mistake."

Balogh was dismissed after 45 minutes for denying Fletcher a clear goalscoring opportunity as he galloped on to Colin Nish's pass. At that point, Hibs were in command, a goal to the good and holding a one-man advantage. But manager Mixu Paatelainen was denied the opportunity to reinforce the superiority during his half-time address, for Sol Bamba was dismissed for the same offence as Balogh moments later. In what was the fourth of seven stoppage-time minutes at the end of the first half, he collided with Nade while pursuing Michael Stewart's through ball and was ordered off by Charlie Richmond.

Laszlo accepted that both red cards were justified. "I think the referee did a normal job," he said, perhaps reassured by the performance of Balogh's replacement, Jamie MacDonald. The young Scot was introduced for Bruno Aguiar in the wake of the Hungarian's dismissal and his instinctive save when one-on-one with Fletcher in the second half kept Hearts in the game. He is now certain to start at Ibrox this Saturday with Marian Kello sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Laszlo may regret the decision not to include Mike Tullberg amongst his substitutes. Certainly, the Danish striker would have cut a more inspiring late substitute than Adrian Mrowiec, but the suspicion is that Tullberg is being reserved for Ibrox. Derby disappointment aside, Hearts are entitled to remain confident of finishing the season propitiously. A 1-0 defeat in Leith was galling, particularly in light of the chances missed, but the Tynecastle side retain a five-point advantage in third place as weekend scores elsewhere conspired in their favour. Even before those results were known, Laszlo was the epitome of composure while defending his players. Those people skills might just take him all the way to next season's Europa League.

Taken from the Scotsman

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