Monday, May 29, 2006

Fight the real enemy

As a Hibs fan, it normally falls to me to revel in the discomfort of Hearts fans, and to take great pain from their success. This year, however, is different. The normal order has been at least temporarily overturned. The Old Firm have been split, and one half (Rangers) deprived of the Champions League for a year. At the risk of getting dizzy, a quick review of the last few epic managerial eras at Tynecastle is called for:

The Robertson Era (duration: 7 months)
Following Craig Levein’s tenure, John Robertson is appointed as manager, only to be sacked in May 05. Steven Pressley and John McGlynn take over until the end of season. Hearts court Bobby Robson, Lothar Matthaus and Nevio Scala as potential replacements

The Burley Era (duration: 4 months)

George Burley is confirmed as new Hearts coach in June with a 2-year contract. Following an astonishing early-season run of success, his contract disintegrates in October due to "“irreconcilable differences"” between Burley and the board. He leaves with Hearts topping the league, unbeaten.

3 days later, a spokesman for Vladimir Romanov promises on that he will not meddle in team selection. Hearts consider Bobby Robson, Nevio Scala, Claudio Ranieri and Kevin Keegan for the managers hotseat. Before October is out, both chief executive Phil Anderton and chairman George Foulkes depart (the hugely successful Anderton is pushed, with Foulkes jumping in protest) - Foulkes goes on to label Vladimir Romanov a "“megalomaniac". I can't imagine where he got that impression.”

The Rix Era (duration: 4 months)
November sees Hearts confirm Graham Rix as the new head coach. In February 06, he is joined by Jim Duffy as director of football. Just incase Jim gets too comfy in Gorgie, Rix is sacked in March with Duffy following him out the door. Valdas Ivanauskas appointed as interim head coach.

As this season comes to a close (we are seemingly still currently in the Ivanauskas Era, but check back regularly for updates), Hearts go on their summer holidays with two major things to think about: a vastly increased debt hanging over their heads, and the glory of the Champions League beckoning. Oh yes -– and the certifiable owner.

Notwithstanding the rolling farce that has been Hearts off-the-field season, they must be credited with an astonishing achievement in splitting the Old Firm by coming second in the league, and kicking down the door to the qualifying stage of the Champions League. The team and their fans deserve nothing but congratulations for their achievements this year.

Any force that can dent the domination of the Old Firm over Scottish football must be wholeheartedly welcomed. Despite Hibs local differences with Hearts, it is incumbent upon all Scottish football fans to welcome a challenge to Old Firm hegemony, no matter from which quarter that challenge comes. Hearts are currently asking the questions of the ugly sisters in Glasgow, and until Hibs are in a position to do so in a sustained manner, Hibees everywhere must continue to support the challenge that Hearts are mounting.

If they can sustain their on-the-field form with the insanity in the boardroom, season 06/07 should be another beauty!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great To hear some non old firm opinion on the situation at hearts. It's fair to say that this season has been turbulent for us but certainly one of the most memorable and enjoyable in recent memory