It wouldn’t be Hearts without Robbie Nielson deflecting responsibility for his team’s defeat to Celtic. Hearts are a more talented side then their solitary (off target) attempt on goal suggests. Early in the second half they pressed the champions out of their stride, but their game objective was clear to see: spoil, delay and take one for the team whenever Celtic threaten to break.
We saw things from Hearts yesterday I have never seen on a football field before. With Joe Hart ready to take a goal kick, Liam Boyce ran towards him, picked up and threw the ball away. Every Hearts player was behind the ball!
Slowing play down is a legitimate tactic, taking it to this extreme is asking for and surely accepting a yellow card. The same can be said for pulling players back when they are breaking with possession. After an away game in Switzerland on Thursday, Hearts players were frustrated and tired by the closing stages at Celtic Park.
Either Heats players took it upon themselves to wantonly pull Celtic players down and time waste by throwing balls away, which we all know is not the case, or Neilson sent them out to do just this. It is his responsibility that two players picked up second yellows late in the game. Any suggestion otherwise is just deflection, a tactic Neilson regularly uses.
On a more disturbing topic. There is an unhealthy undertone to the criticism of two referees over the weekend. To be clear, Robbie Neilson’s words had no such intent, but loose words from the Hearts manager can have real life consequences.
Anyway, great to see Celtic clear at the top of the table. There is a very long way to go and I don’t feel we are ready yet to be assured of the title. That picture will be a whole lot clearer two weeks from now.