Five-Goal Thriller? Er..Nah!
The attendance and subdued atmosphere at today's game reflected the latest dip in our spirits caused by the AGM reports.
The crowd was officially given as 15,259 - however Hearts seem to declare crowd figures which includes all Season Ticket seats, which usually overstates the ACTUAL attendance. My rough visual estimate would have been under 14,000.
Although the sun shone, the cold wind reminded us that these are hard times for the club, and the fans were generally quiet throughout this 'nothing at stake' match.
The first thing I noticed was the contrast in the players' warm-up routines. After the stretching and jogging stuff, Andy Millen had a group of eight St. Mirren players doing a series of 'run and pass' routines for 10 minutes. Fairly simple stuff, but it looked disciplined and is presumably designed to develop a positive instinct and confidence in the players.
Whenever I glanced at our routines, things looked much less disciplined - some players just running/walking about, kicking a ball occasionally, doing their own thing. More tellingly, on two occasions when Frail was giving advice/instructions to a Hearts player during this period, it looked to me as if the player wasn't actually paying any attention to him!
Hearts picked up the three points with goals from Eggert Jonsson, Gary Glen and Laryea Kingston - the Ghanaian's free-kick winner being a real peach that would have had TV commentators drooling if it had been executed by Nakamura. With St. Mirren scoring first, this was the first time Hearts had come from behind to win (in 90 minutes) since George Burley's opening league game at Kilmarnock in 2005.
However the main bright spot for Hearts fans was the performance of young Gary Glen whose movement, enthusiasm and ball control were exactly what we've been lacking since Velicka left. In addition, he scored a decent goal and played a part in Jonsson's equaliser too. Even without his goal though, he offered much more of an option to our midfield players than Nade.
Unfortunately our midfield players were poor from a creative point of view, often failing to do the simple thing well. I can't help feeling that some of these guys could develop into really good midfielders if we had a coach who could galvanise them into a unit and give them the confidence to make forward runs and attack more, instead of continually playing safety-first passes back to defenders who then tend to just 'blooter' it up the park.
Our other newcomer - Jason Thomson at right-back - was not as impressive as Glen. For most of the first half he seemed a bit lost for pace and didn't appear to know his role. However, he put in a couple of good tackles in the 2nd half, so hopefully he will grow in confidence during these meaningless matches, as our worst season for many a year draws to a close.