Hearts confirmed that their form and confidence are on a high right now by recording their 3rd successive 2-0 win, this time in Perth against St. Johnstone. A Kevin Kyle penalty and a late Ryan Stevenson goal sealed the points, in a scrappy encounter on a wet pitch. With Motherwell losing at Easter Road, Hearts have now moved into 3rd place in the SPL with 23 points from 13 matches.
A look back at statistics from previous seasons shows that 23 points is the 3rd best points total we`ve had in the last 10 years after 13 games. Under Craig Levein in season 2003/04, we had 26 points, and went on to finish 3rd in the SPL. And in 2005/06 under ? well?. lots of managers, we had a massive 32 points at this stage, eventually finishing 2nd .
The full analysis of points after 13 matches is –
Season ???.Points??..Final SPL position
2001/02 ??. ?13.???.?5th
2002/03 ???..20 ????.3rd
2003/04 ???..26 ????.3rd
2004/05 ???..22 ????.5th
2005/06 ???..32 ????.2nd
2006/07 ???..21 ????.4th
2007/08 ???..18 ????.8th
2008/09 ???..20 ????.3rd
2009/10 ???..13 ????.6th
2010/11 ???. 23 ??..? ???
I don`t think it`s a mere co-incidence that Hearts improved results in the last 4 weeks have come following the return of captain Marius Zaliukas to the team, after his acceptance of a new contract. Although not a “classy defender” in the Levein or Weir mould, he seems to have developed leadership qualities which have the respect of his team-mates who have responded positively (apart from the Kilmarnock game).
The U-19 team are now at the top of their league, after hammering Aberdeen 5-2. The youngsters have been scoring lots of goals this season, and it would be nice to have a good supply of exciting players break through into the first-team squad over the next 2 seasons, hopefully emulating the flair of David Templeton.
The formality of voting through the debt-for-equity transfer took place this week, meaning that Hearts annual interest charge will be reduced. It was interesting to hear Sergejus Fedotovas deliver 2 messages in his interviews this week. First was that he is pleased with the progress of Hearts fortunes both on and off the pitch, with a possible financial break-even point coming in 2013. Second was his admission that the Romanov regime may not be that far away from re-assessing their position as owners of Hearts, if they do not see some positive signs from Edinburgh Council on a plan to redevelop the Main Stand area at McLeod Street. Whether this was just a political “message” to the Council or a serious statement regarding a possible sale of the club, I`m not sure.
Meanwhile, Scotland manager Craig Levein has named Kevin Kyle in his squad for the friendly match against the Faroe Islands, and the big striker must feel very pleased that this recognition has come so soon in his Hearts career. Arvydas Novikovas has been named in Lithuania`s squad, while U-19 striker Rob Ogleby has been named in Wales`s U-21 squad.
So there`s no doubt that this has been a fantastic week for the club and the fans. Let`s hope the positive “feel-good” factor continues next Saturday with a resounding win over Hamilton at Tynecastle.