It is not often that we have to play a game in the league away and at home against one team within 10 days but that has been scheduled to happen when Hearts come to Ibrox on Saturday. Let me take the bull by the horns and say against Hearts at Tynecastle we were atrocious. We looked a million miles away from the team that played under Mark Warburton, the man with the magic hat, last season. In fact it looked more like the wicked witch of the east had bewitched us into the wizard of Oz and turned us into the characters of that film. The Scarecrow who didn't have a brain. The athletic ability of the Tin Man and a Lion who had lost his heart and feared his shadow under the Tynecastle floodlights. At this point I had trouble with my story line as the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion had to follow the yellow brick road to see the Wizard in the Emerald city to get back their lost powers. Funnily enough the Emerald city was a city of lies ruled by a man who thrived on lies and power. Well no likeness in Scottish football there then.
Role on 4 days and the Gers had to face Aberdeen -- the team who the media and Aberdeen supporters have declared the second team in Scotland. The team who are planning a new super 21,000-seat stadium. Now I might be missing something but when I watch an Aberdeen game on the TV, three sides of the stadium have empty seats. Could it be that the land that Pittodrie lies on is prime development land and the new Stadium and training facility is to be built on greenbelt land that has been donated to them by the landowner? That wouldn't be Aberdeen City Council would it? They have been given a missive to do what they want with the land. A friendly Aberdeen City council is biting at the bit to give greenbelt land the building permission they need even although 60% of the local community are against building the stadium and training facilities on this land. The sale of Pittodrie for housing will pay for the build. This looks like another dodgy land deal that is giving Aberdeen an unfair financial advantage. Is it financial doping they call it? There are probably more sheep on the greenbelt land than they they are likely to get supporters inside the stadium -- unless they are playing the Gers of course. Maybe they can stick the the sheep on the empty seats to give it a bit of baaa-tmosphere!.
After the game against Hearts it was crucial that we won against Aberdeen otherwise Aberdeen would have been a point clear of us with two games in hand. I am not going to say we were magically transformed against Aberdeen, but the players showed they did have the heart of a real lion . They did not play like tin men, and dare I say it Barrie McKay brought a bit of brain back into the team with some sublime passes. In the end we ran out 2-1 winners and the Sheep were silenced yet again at Ibrox. They have not beaten us there for 25 years since 1991.
As Hearts followed up their win against us with a draw at Ross County means we remain in second place 2 points clear of them and Aberdeen who have a game in hand. What a boost it would give us to move 5 points clear of them come 5 o'clock on Saturday.
Since the last game they have lost their manager Robbie Neilson and Ian Cathro has been brought in to replace him. With his jacket not yet settled on the coat hanger I would guess he will just say “same again lads" and not change any of the system they played at Tynecastle.
Over the last few years Hearts have out-fought us. They are a big strong team and any technical frailties are covered by strength and work rate. Technically we have a far superior team but when that is not matched with the same intense workrate and aggression then technical ability will fall at the first hurdle. We need to match them blow for blow and be a damn sight smarter than we were in the game 10 days ago. The players have now shown they can do it, they now have to do it on a weekly basis. This is their chance to rectify that defeat. “We have looked at it and learned from our mistakes” is wearing thin and is becoming just a piece of cheap rhetoric. Words do not win games, actions do.
Unfortunately we will be missing Clint Hill for the game as he will be serving a one match ban for his red card against Aberdeen. When Clint is in the team he seems to settle his partner centre-half and up their games. Last week Rob Kiernan was named man of the match in many people's book but when playing with Danny Wilson he seems to be a nervous wreck and make far more mistakes. Lets hope both can put the past behind them and start forming a partnership that could serve us for years to come.
The gaffer informed us in his pre-match interview that Josh Windass is still 5 days away from fitness with Jordan Rossiter about another 9 days away. The fifty million dollar question is who will be playing right back? I think it would be very unfair to drop Lee Hodson after his game against Aberdeen although he has still to convince me he is a long term candidate for that spot. I think if Tavernier gets a game it will be in the midfield. Many supporters would prefer to see him in that position anyway as it puts less defensive pressure on him and allows him a little more freedom in his attacking role. I have been disappointed with Jason Holt of late and I think Tav would add a bit more steel to the midfield.
Waghorn could keep his place on the right wing as he looked lean and mean when he came on against the Dons but I think Joe Garner has won the battle for the main strikers role and I will be surprised if he does not start the game up front.
I like Harry Forrester but I think Kenny Miller will be given that left midfield spot that he played with a reasonable degree of success last weekend.
The team I would like to see is:
Hodson - Kiernan - Wilson - Wallace
Tavernier - Halliday - Miller
Waghorn - Garner - McKay
With the game against Celtic coming up at the end of the month, it would be nice to have some light between us and Aberdeen and Hearts in the league. The points gap is in our favour of course and tomorrow is the perfect chance to realise that. The fans can also play a part in this by creating an electric positive wall of noise to urge the team into battle. These are points that are imperative to us getting that much needed European spot. The boss needs to get that Magic Hat back on and get the team playing like we did last season. Failure to Qualify for Europe could have him tossing his Magic Hat in the bushes and walking down the yellow brick road in the wrong direction.
The referee is John Beaton.
C'mon the Gers!!!
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