Date: 1st February 2007 at 7:03pm
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Hearts have come in for a fair bit of criticism recently for their policy of bringing in young Lithuanian players from FBK Kaunas. Indeed many have been referring to the club as ‘Hearts Of Lithuania’, ‘FBK Hearts’, etc.

This is only natural as it’s fairly unprecedented for a team in this country to start stocking up in such abundance with players from a single foreign land, especially when most of these guys are replacing some of the best players Hearts have had in years.

However despite the very apathetic view towards Hearts signing ‘yet another’ few Lithuanians, there are perhaps some merits to adopting this policy. You’re probably thinking I’m as mad as our colourful owner now, but hear me out!

Let’s just say that in the next five years, Hearts were to start blooding young Lithuanian players from the academy instead of Scots (I know VR said this wouldn’t happen but let’s face it, we know it might!). Is this necessarily a bad thing?

Most would say ‘definitely yes’, as Hearts are a Scottish club and we should retain some sort of national identity by having a core of Scottish players at all times. It’s hard to disagree with that – it’s a fair argument. But what if the Lithuanian players were better? What if they could help us to win a trophy and the Scottish guys couldn’t? Who would you prefer to take then?

I know it’s a slightly different situation, but the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea have hardly had an Englishman between them in their sides in recent years, but have still managed to be incredibly successful. Do we hear their fans moaning about a lack of national identity?

Another argument you could put forward for the Lithuanian approach is a very topical one. Look how many good Scottish players have been linked with moves to the Old Firm in the past few days. Lots of them. Clubs all over the country are suffering from the age-old problem of being weakened by the Old Firm who, even if they don’t sign all the players they’re in for, still do damage by the unsettling effect it can have.

Perhaps only a couple of players have actually signed for them (Hartley and Thomson), but it’s pretty certain that more will go in the summer. And the next time say Hibs or Hearts or any other Scottish team helps to bring a new young star into the limelight, where do you think their most likely destination will be? You guessed it, Glasgow. Hence the Scottish game continues to be monopolised.

Now I’m not saying that it’s impossible for a young Lithuanian to want to sign for one of the Old Firm as soon as they get the opportunity, but there has to be a better chance that they won’t. Even if they want to move to another club, I would think that they’d prefer to try the Premiership or somewhere in Europe than go to Glasgow. Why? Because there’s no chance that either club would have been their ‘boyhood heroes’ (HATE that phrase!) and the chances are they would not have a Scottish agent, which can also be a telling factor. In other words they’ll be able to use their heads to make the decision, rather than being brainwashed.

How many times have we seen players making terrible career moves by going to these clubs because they supported them as a boy or just generally because the Scottish mentality can sometimes make them out to be bigger and better than they are? Too many times. Think Allan Johnston, think Paul Ritchie, Kenny Miller (twice!), Ian McCall, Derek Riordan……the list goes on and on.

As I said, it’s by no means certain that Lithuanian players wouldn’t take this path, but the chances of them doing so blindly is far less.

By presenting these arguments I’m by no means saying I agree with the current management of our club, far from it in fact. But I do think that it’s important that we try and look on what could potentially still be a positive side of what’s been happening.

Let the abuse begin……!


8 Replies to “Scots Or Lithuanians? You Decide!”

  • You do make some fair points but at the moment I’m finding it difficult accepting it. Maybe in a few years time we’ll look back and say he was right. Maybe not though. Craig…..Platini??!

  • Listened to Zico on Sky Sports tonight – talking about how signing for Celtic is a “dream come true” and rabbiting on about his “boyhood heroes”. Okay, fair enough for the lad, and he did well for us while he was here – but we’ve all known about his Celtic roots for *years*. Whilst we may not get another Zico out of the Lithuanians, at least we know they won’t leave us for one of the Glasgow twins.

  • I actually quite like some of Platini’s proposals. Mind you I’d rather the Champs League cut it to two or even one team for each country. That competition makes a mockery of the name “Champions” League now in my view. By the way, I’d take a Lithuanian version of Platini if there’s one going… that WAS a player!

  • Agreed. Yes the ECL doesn’t cut it for me either – brought up with the real thing.
    Noticed how Sky try to sterilize history with the vigour of Pol Pot. The European Cup is cast into a parallel football universe i.e. “Celtic have never been past the first group stage” (they won the fecking thing!)
    They do it down here with the EPL (The old english first division is never mentioned) football was invented in 1992.

  • I know and they market it extremely cleverly. People think they’re getting a much better product than they actually are. I mean, you have the situation now where you have several meaningless games in that competition. You should NEVER have meaningless games in the top competition in Europe!

  • Same with the UEFA cup What a complete mess that is.
    Should have retained the Cup Winners Cup also (but I would say that!)

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