No need for panic – but when Hibs seem to be out-manouvering us, you know something ain’t right…
Hearts poor start to the season has probably intensified the pressure on manager Csaba Laszlo to sort out the management of his new-look team. With an early exit from Europe now certain, the focus must be to pick up points from the “lesser” SPL teams to avoid the club becoming detached in the bottom six after the first quarter. As we know however, the likes of St Mirren, Falkirk and St Johnstone are also capable of beating us – so a return to the disciplined passing style of last season will be required in order to grind out some low-scoring wins.
For starters, here are some big questions that I think Csaba needs to address.
1) Is Christian Nade worth persevering with ?
2) Is Eggert Jonsson really going to make it as a right-back ?
3) Have we really got the right specialised striker coaching at the Academy ?
1) Even at this early stage, it looks like the big Frenchman will struggle to find the net at all this season. In addition, his temperament looks suspect – and his manager was forced to take him off after only 30 minutes on Sunday to avoid a possible 2nd yellow card. As if all that wasn’t enough, his workrate and ball skills so far don`t look to be adding anything to the team. Perhaps this is not the time to be ditching a forward, but surely the passing and running skills of Wallace, Driver, Black and Obua would be enhanced further by enthusiastic skilful youngsters like Glen, Novikovas and Templeton, as opposed to 6-foot battering-ram Nade ?
2) I like young Eggert, and his performances as a defensive midfielder over the least 2 seasons have been generally quite good. However Csaba surprised many fans last season by declaring that he would turn the Icelander into a “£2m right-back”. Did Csaba see something in Eggert`s game that was more akin to a modern full-back ? Or was it simply that he knew Robbie Neilson would be leaving ? Although Jonsson has played in several positions, I don`t think he has looked comfortable or effective in any of them apart from defensive midfield. I`m probably in a minority in thinking that Jason Thomson looked as if he could become a decent right-back, given time and experience After all, it took Robbie about 5 years to look good – and even then, some fans reckoned he was still rubbish !!
3) If Romanov is not going to release sufficient funds to attract good strikers, then the only option is to produce our own. We do seem to have some good young forwards at the Academy – from Glen, Novikovas, Husband and Templeton down to Wallace, Robinson, Walker, Love and Smith in the U-17 team. However it`s no good producing these boys at youth level unless most can be developed into decent SPL strikers – and surely specialist coaching is required from ex-players who know what they`re talking about. It must be depressing for some of these lads to read the headlines about Csaba wanting a striker, when he perseveres with Nade and doesn’t seem keen to promote from within. I`d like to see Csaba lobby Romanov to be allowed to bring in a specialist striker coach – even if it was just on a part-time basis. Decent strikers are scarce and can command hefty fees – so selling just ONE of these Academy guys for £1m would more than cover the outlay on a coach for many years. I`m sure we can all think of an ideal candidate for the job !!
Finally ?.. Csaba has already admitted that he would be interested in signing a contract extension – but only if the club matches his ambition. Although this has generated some “Csaba ready to walk” headlines, I think we can be heartened by the manager’s stance here. It`s not clear if lack of money is the whole story – especially given Csaba`s rather frosty comments about new recruits Witteveen and Kucharski. Could it be that Csaba had other targets who were overruled by Vladimir in favour of these two ? Of course, our unpredictable owner may take umbrage at having his early contract offer turned down by his manager – and it could lead to a parting of the ways further down the line. But equally, Vladimir must surely recognise that Csaba is the first manager who has been honest and open with him about football activity at Hearts. The decision by Hearts fan Daniel Galbraith to opt to join Hibs instead of us should be a cause for concern, and their recruitment of Anthony Stokes from Sunderland shows what can be achieved from within the UK. Let`s hope the lines of communication remain open between owner and manager, during this testing time, and beyond.