While Liverpool were setting new selling and buying records in the January transfer window, Hearts` dealings were meagre by comparison. However the sanctioning of the approach to Andy Webster – which ultimately won the day when compared with other interest from Dundee United, Hibs and Derby among others – shows that Vladimir has perhaps mellowed in his mistrust of everything related to the Old Firm. Or at least he`s willing to put it to one side, when his football manager says he rates a particular player and would like to sign him.
We are led to believe that Hearts` wages are now more realistic these days, yet the 2.5 year contract offered was enough to convince Webster that trying to resurrect his career in front of supporters who are “split” on his commitment to Hearts is worth it – and is also testament to Jim Jefferies` management skills.
After signing, the player said : “I am delighted to have rejoined Hearts and am grateful to the manager and owners for giving me the chance to return to a club that means a lot to me. I come back to the club that gave me the base for a successful club and international career as a more experienced player. A lot was written at the time I left and the circumstances were indeed unfortunate, but the fact I have returned to a club which means so much to me – particularly when there were opportunities at other clubs – says everything I need to say on my return. Now my entire focus is on the future and helping Hearts secure European football.”
I hope that Andy delivers strong performances and leadership on the field to silence those fans who have decided to view the likes of him and Steven Pressley as traitors who took pride in insulting them and the club. It`s not a view I`ve ever shared, preferring to see the actions of these 2 former heroes in the context of the worsening circus that our club was becoming in 2006 – which history shows reached it`s peak in 2007. After failing to prevent the slide from the inside, it`s surely wrong to criticise them for having sufficient professionalism to decide that enough was enough and seek pastures new.
Meanwhile, JJ has also taken 24-year old Evaldas Razulis on loan until the summer, primarily as cover for Kevin Kyle in the event of injury or suspension. At 6 foot 3 inches, the big fellow seems to fit the standard “JJ template” for a centre forward. Having come from Kaunas via a loan spell in Latvia, some media commentators are probably licking their lips at the prospect of a return to the afore-mentioned circus at Tynecastle – however Hearts fans will sleep easy in the knowledge that JJ is clearly the man picking the team. Additional arrangements made by Vladimir to bring in the likes of Rudi Skacel and now Razulis are actually most welcome. Time will tell how good or bad this new guy is, but for the moment I think we can be pleased at how the relationship between Jim and Vladimir is going.