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GinRummy

Players' futures on the line at Hearts as Craig Halkett explains long-term thinking

With more squad restructuring planned this summer, some Hearts players may only have a few games left in maroon.

There are nine Championship fixtures remaining following Friday night’s draw in Inverness. Those who want to play with the Edinburgh club in next season’s Premiership know there are limited chances to impress.

 

Frustrations are increasing after three successive 1-1 draws against Queen of the South, Morton and Inverness. Hearts remain 12 points clear at the top of the league but second-placed Raith Rovers have two matches in hand.

Manager Robbie Neilson will look to recruit in several positions if his team achieve promotion and current incumbents are understandably wary.

Defender Craig Halkett said futures are on line ahead of next season. “Everyone knows that we are playing for our futures here. The manager has brought people in this season to do a job and get the team back into the Premiership,” he said.

“He has said before that he wants to strengthen the squad again, so everyone should feel we are playing for our future and prove that they are good enough to be here next season.

 

“Individually we all know what the job is and that’s to win this league and get the club back to where it belongs in the Premiership. It is a shorter season this year, we only have nine games left.

“We know we have to win games to get over the line. I don’t think there is more pressure on us or anything like that, we just know ourselves we have to do better.

 

“We haven’t won enough games of late and we need to change that and prove to ourselves that we can do that.”

A 12-point lead with nine games left is nonetheless a decent cushion, even if there are arguments that it should be greater. “We knew we were the biggest team in the league at the start of the season,” said Halkett.

“For me, we should be in the Premiership and challenging for the top six and top four. That’s where we feel we should be as a club. To go and win the league comfortably was the aim.

“We have a lead at the top of the table and from now until the end of the season we want to win as many games as we can to wrap it up as quickly as we can

“In football, nothing is a given and we know we have to prove that we are good enough players to go and do that. That’s a challenge and we have to rise to it.”

Their efforts have been undermined by losing the first goal in each of their last three 

games. Miles Storey put Inverness ahead on Friday before Halkett climbed to nod Aaron McEneff’s cross downwards for Liam Boyce to equalise.

“It goes back to us giving teams a head start and then we need to score two to win the game. It isn’t good enough from our point of view. We had a chat after the Inverness game and we said that we have to start games better from now on.”

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gashauskis9

He’d be one of the first out the door on my watch.  2/3 solid performances a season doesn’t cut it. 

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heartmussel

More or less talked about this after Inverness game,we can all see AGAIN it’s needed but some pressure already in a tricky few weeks ahead.Brought this all on ourselves,thank goodness they are all dropping points around us.

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kingantti1874

One of the first out the door. I actually can’t bear him.. he’s absolutely garbage on the ball, pretty slow, bad positionally and he looks weird. 

Edited by kingantti1874
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gashauskis9
Just now, pointon said:

Bar Craig Gordon I would be happy to see the back of the lot of them 

Smith, McEneff and Boyce can stay as well, but you’re right, the rest are expendable.  We should be building the team around them.  

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Dia Liom

I wouldn't write Halkett off but he has a lot to do to show he can be a first choice centre half.  Think a lot of his errors are down to concentration rather than inability.

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GinRummy

I wonder if the fact players know they are on shaky ground could be affecting performances.

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Section Q

As a club we've been a soft touch since Cathro. We need a hard as nails CEO who knows how to run a club and a coach similar to Stendel who takes no shite. We're a great club with a great set up, debt free, and well supported by the best supporters in the country bar none. Time for a clear out from top to bottom.....

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Glad to hear that Halkett knows the script. Hopefully he is one of the first to be shown the door in the summer, albeit a season too late. 🤞

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Voice of reason

Well said Craig Halkett - can’t argue with any of that. Very decent and honest interview.

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GinRummy
Just now, Cruyff said:

Glad to hear that Halkett knows the script. Hopefully he is one of the first to be shown the door in the summer, albeit a season too late. 🤞

If we can get two centre backs of the right quality in, I think that will make a hell of a big difference. I don't believe we ever needed two holding mids this season but if we had two decent centre backs I doubt we would have seen it. Full backs also having to do more defensive work than they should be this season.

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2 minutes ago, Cruyff said:

Glad to hear that Halkett knows the script. Hopefully he is one of the first to be shown the door in the summer, albeit a season too late. 🤞

Yep. Appreciate he tries his best, but it just isn't cutting it. A bit like Smith.

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Just now, GinRummy said:

If we can get two centre backs of the right quality in, I think that will make a hell of a big difference. I don't believe we ever needed two holding mids this season but if we had two decent centre backs I doubt we would have seen it. Full backs also having to do more defensive work than they should be this season.

Yep. Probably need two top notch Centerhalfs who we can rely on to defend and allow the full backs to get forward. Personally I'd be looking at improving RB and LB as well. 

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Riccarton3
2 minutes ago, GinRummy said:

If we can get two centre backs of the right quality in, I think that will make a hell of a big difference. I don't believe we ever needed two holding mids this season but if we had two decent centre backs I doubt we would have seen it. Full backs also having to do more defensive work than they should be this season.

Can't see why 433 would offer less protection for the defence. If he goes 4231 again, I just will not understand it

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everton_jambo

Halkett looked good before his injury last season. He just looks so shaky now. Still think he and Souttar could be a good long term partnership under a different manager but think we need a more dominating CB for next season. At the moment teams (including part timers)  look dangerous whenever they enter our half.

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GinRummy
Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Cruyff said:

Yep. Probably need two top notch Centerhalfs who we can rely on to defend and allow the full backs to get forward. Personally I'd be looking at improving RB and LB as well. 

If Halliday and Kingsley are still here I reckon that will do on the left. Smith not been great recently and I'd like a RB to challenge for his position. So not just cover. Somebody to give RN a headache over which one to select every week.

Edited by GinRummy
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GinRummy
4 minutes ago, Riccarton3 said:

Can't see why 433 would offer less protection for the defence. If he goes 4231 again, I just will not understand it

Whether it does or doesn't I'm not totally sure. The two CB's just need to do their job to the level required, regardless of the formation. They really haven't done that consistently for close to three seasons. 

 

4-3-3 is a formation that RN himself said 'would probably suit the players best' so why we haven't seen it yet I have no idea.

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3 minutes ago, GinRummy said:

If Halliday and Kingsley are still here I reckon that will do on the left. Smith not been great recently and I'd like a RB to challenge for his position. So not just cover. Somebody to give RN a headache over which one to select every week.

Yeah, i suppose Halliday can do that role. Defo need a RB to challenge Smith and a long term successor. 

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3fingersreid

I like my centre half’s to win arial battles , he does that , doesn’t lose many to the centre forwards when competing 

I like them when tackling to take no prisoners, he does that

hes got a decent bit of pace once he gets going and up until this season he chipped in with goals .

What he needs is a partner beside him who’s not a ****ing bombscare 

Halkett is just fine for a centre half in the backwater football that is Scotland .

Midfield creativity and particularly wingers with pace ,skill and the ability to cross the ball are a bigger issue 

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lost in space

Quote from Halkett -

" We had a chat after the Inverness game".

 

Yup, says it all to me. A nice cosy chat. Probably over tea and scones.

Any raised voices??? Nah, no need for that.  Probably all asked for their opinions but not allowed to name underperforming players. There is HR issues to consider.

 

Probably took a vote on how they should "move forward as a team" and take collective responsibility.

Glad we have that sorted.

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This is My Story Podcast

Honestly, we need to break this culture at the club. It’s not acceptable to just write off the rubbish we see week in, week out by saying it’s gonna get better down the line. Something at the club isn’t working. Is it pressure from above and demand for results. Is savage under pressure? Is Robbie under pressure? Is the scouting department, recruitment team under pressure? How come Cathro, Levein, Stendel and now Robbie all get rebuilds sanctioned from the top brass. We’ve signed 98 players since Budge took over. We average 6 players a transfer window. That’s mental. Even more mental is when you factor in that we’ve maybe had 6 transfer fees across the board, Hickey and Sow the only transfer fees to write home about, although we did get money for Rossi that was supposedly worth a lot. We’ve had near 15 million pounds worth of benefactor monies over the years to cover holes in the funding. We need a proper strategic plan. We can’t just keep writing off seasons and half seasons in hope that rebuilds dig us out a hole. 

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OmiyaHearts

I don't think Halkett is that bad. It's the guys he's had beside him that concern me.

 

In relation to making changes, apart from Gordon and maybe Boyce, I'm not really fussed on who leaves. It should be easy to improve the standard of player we have in our current squad.

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4 minutes ago, This is My Story Podcast said:

Honestly, we need to break this culture at the club. It’s not acceptable to just write off the rubbish we see week in, week out by saying it’s gonna get better down the line. Something at the club isn’t working. Is it pressure from above and demand for results. Is savage under pressure? Is Robbie under pressure? Is the scouting department, recruitment team under pressure? How come Cathro, Levein, Stendel and now Robbie all get rebuilds sanctioned from the top brass. We’ve signed 98 players since Budge took over. We average 6 players a transfer window. That’s mental. Even more mental is when you factor in that we’ve maybe had 6 transfer fees across the board, Hickey and Sow the only transfer fees to write home about, although we did get money for Rossi that was supposedly worth a lot. We’ve had near 15 million pounds worth of benefactor monies over the years to cover holes in the funding. We need a proper strategic plan. We can’t just keep writing off seasons and half seasons in hope that rebuilds dig us out a hole. 

Good Post. 

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GinRummy

Out of the ones RN has brought in I think it's a fair bet that-

 

Gordon

Stewart

Halliday

Kingsley

McEneff

GMS

Gnando

 

- will all be staying. Guys like Popescu and Roberts I think have time on contracts so might be hard to shift.

 

Out of the players that were here already-

 

Boyce

Walker

 

- can't think of anyone else who he will be desperate to keep but again contract length could come into it.

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Brick Tamland
44 minutes ago, gashauskis9 said:

He’d be one of the first out the door on my watch.  2/3 solid performances a season doesn’t cut it. 

Was about to post the same

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GinRummy
9 minutes ago, This is My Story Podcast said:

Honestly, we need to break this culture at the club. It’s not acceptable to just write off the rubbish we see week in, week out by saying it’s gonna get better down the line. Something at the club isn’t working. Is it pressure from above and demand for results. Is savage under pressure? Is Robbie under pressure? Is the scouting department, recruitment team under pressure? How come Cathro, Levein, Stendel and now Robbie all get rebuilds sanctioned from the top brass. We’ve signed 98 players since Budge took over. We average 6 players a transfer window. That’s mental. Even more mental is when you factor in that we’ve maybe had 6 transfer fees across the board, Hickey and Sow the only transfer fees to write home about, although we did get money for Rossi that was supposedly worth a lot. We’ve had near 15 million pounds worth of benefactor monies over the years to cover holes in the funding. We need a proper strategic plan. We can’t just keep writing off seasons and half seasons in hope that rebuilds dig us out a hole. 

Completely agree. Next season is a bit different though because we're getting promoted. Hopefully we can start to build something. 

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Gordon Ramsay
10 minutes ago, This is My Story Podcast said:

Honestly, we need to break this culture at the club. It’s not acceptable to just write off the rubbish we see week in, week out by saying it’s gonna get better down the line. Something at the club isn’t working. Is it pressure from above and demand for results. Is savage under pressure? Is Robbie under pressure? Is the scouting department, recruitment team under pressure? How come Cathro, Levein, Stendel and now Robbie all get rebuilds sanctioned from the top brass. We’ve signed 98 players since Budge took over. We average 6 players a transfer window. That’s mental. Even more mental is when you factor in that we’ve maybe had 6 transfer fees across the board, Hickey and Sow the only transfer fees to write home about, although we did get money for Rossi that was supposedly worth a lot. We’ve had near 15 million pounds worth of benefactor monies over the years to cover holes in the funding. We need a proper strategic plan. We can’t just keep writing off seasons and half seasons in hope that rebuilds dig us out a hole. 

 

Agree. 

 

Constant rebuilds. Its just a total mess. 

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Robbo-Jambo
11 minutes ago, lost in space said:

Quote from Halkett -

" We had a chat after the Inverness game".

 

Yup, says it all to me. A nice cosy chat. Probably over tea and scones.

Any raised voices??? Nah, no need for that.  Probably all asked for their opinions but not allowed to name underperforming players. There is HR issues to consider.

 

Probably took a vote on how they should "move forward as a team" and take collective responsibility.

Glad we have that sorted.

They don't seem to do raised voices at the club on or off the pitch. 

 

Neilson and McCulloch stand looking puzzled all game and looks like Naismith the only shouter has even given up a bit. 

 

Maybe because his own performances have been so awful of late. 😏

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Harry Potter
43 minutes ago, kingantti1874 said:

One of the first out the door. I actually can’t bear him.. he’s absolutely garbage on the ball, pretty slow, bad positionally and he looks weird. 

looks weird😧, i thought he was a great signing at the time but not grabbing his chance tbh.

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Section N Rules
39 minutes ago, GinRummy said:

I wonder if the fact players know they are on shaky ground could be affecting performances.

If so even more reason to punt them. They can be mentally weak else where.

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Smith's right boot

Will be the biggest problem for us, called this out at the start of the season. 

 

We are relying on some  players that know they are out of a job and/ not wanted on promotion, but are relying on said players to give 100% and get us promoted. 

 

Terrible mix for a footballing side. Luckily we are clear, far bigger issue for a toiling side. 

 

Was always the case tho. 

 

Wighton and Lee moved on with little fuss for exactly that reason but we have a number of out of contract players who will be thinking more of thier next employment rather than winning the league with Hearts.

 

Makes Robbies job twice is hard. 

 

Just got to hope the core players, the new guys pull together and to a lesser  extent the professionalism of the guys leaving holds firm. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smith's right boot
17 minutes ago, GinRummy said:

Out of the ones RN has brought in I think it's a fair bet that-

 

Gordon

Stewart

Halliday

Kingsley

McEneff

GMS

Gnando

 

- will all be staying. Guys like Popescu and Roberts I think have time on contracts so might be hard to shift.

 

Out of the players that were here already-

 

Boyce

Walker

 

- can't think of anyone else who he will be desperate to keep but again contract length could come into it.

 

I'd add Smith, Souttar and possibly Halkett. 

 

I can see the rest as you say being shifted or attempts made to do so. 

 

 

Edited by Smith's right boot
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Debut 4

Let himself down saying top 6.  Top 4 would’ve been enough to point out where Hearts should be.  

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GinRummy
Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Smith's right boot said:

 

Smith, Souttar and possibly Halkett. 

Halkett is a weak link imo. Obiviously down to what Robbie thinks but I hope if he is staying that it is just for back up. Smith will probably stay. Souttar will stay, forgot all about him tbh.

Edited by GinRummy
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We seem to go through this every other season. The recruitment is terrible. A lot of players signed that are way short of the standard we require at this club.

it just goes on and on.

we sign one good player then the next two or three are just not up to it.

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Smith's right boot
23 minutes ago, This is My Story Podcast said:

Honestly, we need to break this culture at the club. It’s not acceptable to just write off the rubbish we see week in, week out by saying it’s gonna get better down the line. Something at the club isn’t working. Is it pressure from above and demand for results. Is savage under pressure? Is Robbie under pressure? Is the scouting department, recruitment team under pressure? How come Cathro, Levein, Stendel and now Robbie all get rebuilds sanctioned from the top brass. We’ve signed 98 players since Budge took over. We average 6 players a transfer window. That’s mental. Even more mental is when you factor in that we’ve maybe had 6 transfer fees across the board, Hickey and Sow the only transfer fees to write home about, although we did get money for Rossi that was supposedly worth a lot. We’ve had near 15 million pounds worth of benefactor monies over the years to cover holes in the funding. We need a proper strategic plan. We can’t just keep writing off seasons and half seasons in hope that rebuilds dig us out a hole. 

 

Don't agree at all. 

 

I'd expect a big rebuild this season. 

Last seasons team was demoted, we won 4 games in 30.

The new manager then had two transfer windows handicapped by covid, being on the championship and a reduced season to get promoted. 

 

On promotion, if we want to be in about the top of the league it would be madness to expect a side that was demoted 2 seasons before bolstered by a handful of covid transfer windows signings to do be able to do that. 

 

This season hasn't been written off, we need to win the league. Nothing else we really could do. 

 

 

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Smith's right boot
1 minute ago, GinRummy said:

Halkett is a weak link imo. Obiviously down to what Robbie thinks but I hope if he is staying that it is just for back up. Smith will probably stay. Souttar will stay, forgot all about him tbh.

 

I agree. 

2 good centre backs are required. 

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MCW1976
43 minutes ago, GinRummy said:

If we can get two centre backs of the right quality in, I think that will make a hell of a big difference. I don't believe we ever needed two holding mids this season but if we had two decent centre backs I doubt we would have seen it. Full backs also having to do more defensive work than they should be this season.

 

If you're referring to Halliday, firsty, I agree. Secondly, I always thought he was signed simply because he was available. Something Levein spent seasons doing (with players who became available).

 

'Ah, Andy, you played for Rangers, you must be a good player? We're always on the lookout for good players. What's more, you're a free agent. Give me two ticks, I left my cheque-book in the car'.

 

 

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Begs the question how many know or think they’re going and are simply going through the motions.

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GinRummy
4 minutes ago, MCW1976 said:

 

If you're referring to Halliday, firsty, I agree. Secondly, I always thought he was signed simply because he was available. Something Levein spent seasons doing (with players who became available).

 

'Ah, Andy, you played for Rangers, you must be a good player? We're always on the lookout for good players. What's more, you're a free agent. Give me two ticks, I left my cheque-book in the car'.

 

 

Was more referring to how deep our central midfielders are but when we signed Halliday a few posters assumed he was signed as a left back. Would have made more sense tbh. Run of the mill midfielders are one thing we haven't been short of over the last few seasons.

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GinRummy
2 minutes ago, Rudy T said:

Begs the question how many know or think they’re going and are simply going through the motions.

Agree. That is the first thing I thought of.

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Paul Shark
48 minutes ago, everton_jambo said:

Halkett looked good before his injury last season. He just looks so shaky now. Still think he and Souttar could be a good long term partnership under a different manager but think we need a more dominating CB for next season. At the moment teams (including part timers)  look dangerous whenever they enter our half.

Surely we will be looking for a left sided centre back and not  persisting playing guys out of position ? Halkett is nowhere near quick or technical enough to play out of position long term.

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fast_blood
4 minutes ago, Rudy T said:

Begs the question how many know or think they’re going and are simply going through the motions.

I'd say it would be unlikely if anyone has been told they're going. If they think they are and are just going through the motions then they aren't worthy of playing for Hearts, nor will they get a move to a decent club. 

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manaliveits105

Its strange players usually play better when contracts are coming up not just to stay but to attract other interest - shit weather and shit pitches havent helped us get into any kind of  rhythm and the other teams are always up for it - it will come good and Boycie will keep knocking them in but definitely need solid central defence for next year.

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JDK2020
1 hour ago, pointon said:

Bar Craig Gordon I would be happy to see the back of the lot of them 

 

But, but GMS has still to reach his potential...

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gnasher75

Not convinced Neilson is the right man to oversee the changes.

 

The decisions he has made about who to keep, who to let go and who to sign have been questionable over his two spells as manager.

 

What we see is players we have released going on to do well elsewhere and players who look excellent in their first few games for Hearts gradually fading into mediocrity. 

 

Fed up with Hearts managers playing Fantasy Football with real players rather than working hard with a squad to get the best out of them individually and turn them into a team.

 

If I was Budge I would be setting strict limits on the number of players managers are allowed to sign. The Roberts/Kastaneer situation is a classic example.

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portobellojambo1

Good words from Craig Halkett. Unlike many I'd be happy for him to stay here and form the basis of our centre defence alongside John Souttar, I could see that as a partnership also stepping up to be the middle two in the Scotland side as well. He is another player who had an injury, and before that had been a very good player for us. More recently he has been playing alongside firstly Christophe Berra and then Popescu, neither of whom instill confidence in us as fans, and I guess Craig suffers as well in playing alongside them. Indeed what I've noticed this season is that the man who used to bag us a few goals with his head, Halkett, tends not to go forward for corners now, instead it is Poperscu, who is more of a danger to low flying birds than he is to opposition goalkeepers. I also think we may well see more from the likes of Halliday next season. I appreciate fully that the way we line up at the moment, and the way he is being used, means he does look like a bit of a liability at times. But once up I think having  someone sitting in front of the back 4 who doesn't mind conceding free kicks if needs be to break up play will help us. The best he has probably played for us was the Scottish Cup ties against Hibs and Celtic, where in both games he put in crunching tackles which took two of their more influential players out of the games, and benefited us. A bit like Julien Brelleir I guess, another man who was happy to put himself on the line and give away free kicks to break up play, but even with him a lot og HMFC fans didn't understand the job he was doing.

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The Apprentice
10 minutes ago, Rudy T said:

Begs the question how many know or think they’re going and are simply going through the motions.

Unless those players have something else lined up at the end of the season, they are playing for futures elsewhere so it wouldn't make sense to go through the motions surely? If they can't impress for Hearts in the Championship then they will struggle for a decent move.

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Muppetboy
1 hour ago, kingantti1874 said:

One of the first out the door. I actually can’t bear him.. he’s absolutely garbage on the ball, pretty slow, bad positionally and he looks weird. 

😂yeah that trait in certain footballers we all hate, looking weird!

he does though you’re right

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