Consecutive defeats saw Hearts slip from a promising third to a Gorgie Insurrectionist sixth over the last nine days. Both reversals were by a single goal and came against our Coefficient Monkeys, Aberdeen and Newco, the latter of whom continue to do sterling work in Europe on behalf of the Scottish champions. It really does make a difference.
In his post-match interview at Pittodrie on Saturday, Hearts boss Steven Naismith explained how his team surrendered a lead by throwing the players under their luxury coach, “It wasn’t anything tactical, we got bullied”. Translated: My tactics were without flaw, and we would have won if the players had been man enough.
2024 is almost upon us but in corners of this country, people in position are still trying to explain away their own inadequacies by questioning the effort of those who work for them. It’s all a bit primitive, although, if you’ve ever been to Tynecastle on match days, perhaps Naismith is their perfect boss.
There has been a perfect symmetry to Hearts since September, they lose every game against teams who reached the European group stages, and beat everyone else, with the solitary exception of a draw against Hibernian. The aforementioned thrower-of-others-under-the-bus will attempt to arrest this run at Celtic Park tomorrow. Let’s not allow that.
The best news from earlier this week was the return to availability of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Daizen Maeda. I would start Daizen in a heartbeat tomorrow. Cameron, on the other hand, what’s the rush?
His hamstring was only tweaked, so there is a high probability he would get through the game without incident. The question for Brendan, is, what’s the probability of the alternate outcome? Would three weeks’ rest guarantee his full recovery, and his implied availability for the game against one of our Coefficient Monkeys?
Liam Scales, Stephen Welsh and Gustaf Lagerbielke should have enough in the tank for this one.