Csaba does speak a good game. In a thirty minute press conference, the Hearts manager continued to convey the types of ideas that are only going to make him popular with the Hearts support. He spoke of avoiding the situation where Hearts would be a club with little or no home-grown talent in the squad, acknowledging that to be successful in Scottish football at least some players who know the football culture inside-out are needed. He did not say the same about appointing an assistant. Instead he told reporters that the right mixture of personalities was needed, rather than a specific type of nationality.
When asked about new arrivals he refused to name names and went on to talk passionately about how the scouting network was the most important part of the recruitment process and that he wants the ˜kids on the street’ to be taught how to be football players. Football talents are something that are learned from football coaches, according to Csaba, they are not innate abilities that some have and some don’t.
Some of the Hearts faithful will remain cynical, this is understandable. At the same time, this appointment does feel different to the period when seven other managers, head coaches, caretaker managers and sporting directors were in charge, since Romanov sacked George Burley during the 2005/06 campaign. Things can change quickly, however, and many would be angry but not surprised if another caretaker manager was in charge by the end of the year.
Csaba has made signing a striker and a goalkeeper as a priority but again refused to mention any names. One player who has signed but is waiting on the outcome of his work permit application is David Obua. The Ugandan international surely would have slotted into the left-back position as a trialist, had it not been for his only niggling injury, for the club’s 1-0 friendly victory over Hull at Tynecastle yesterday, after a hamstring injury ruled out Lee Wallace, the only recognised first team left-back in the squad.
Instead it was Andy Driver, naturally a winger, who started Hearts’ final pre-season fixture in vacated position but Csaba was quick to point out that this was not a different position, just one position back. Obviously Driver lacks the defensive qualities of a regular full-back but Csaba has expressed his desire for the players to be more versatile, using potential new signing Obua; who can play left-back, left midfield, or behind the striker(s); as an example.
If Obua is granted a work permit it would be interesting to see him play in-the-hole linking up between Laryea Kingston and the strikers. I would prefer to see Kingston back in, what is in my opinion his best position, central midfield. However he put in a man-of-the-match performance on the right of midfield yesterday and will probably find himself starting there on Saturday. At points last season Kingston looked as though he was on a different wave length to others in the side. Obua is needed urgently at left-back but he could possibly be the type of player who could link-up well with the Kingston, in a more advanced role, later on in the season. Granted, we still need a top finisher at the club, as
there is no point in playing well if you are not going to score goals.
Hearts did manage to find the net once yesterday and kept a sheet in the process. Audrius Ksanavicius made up for an early miss, while one-on-one with Boaz Myhill, by heading in a Ruben Palazuelos cross with 34 minutes on the clock, after some good play from Jason Thomson. Hull were reduced to enjoying their best chances from set-pieces, something that pleased the Hearts manager, however, he was still unhappy at his teams’ inability to covert chances.
Before the match Csaba told Hearts World that, although not usually in friendly matches, the result was important and that the team must play aggressively. He wanted to show the supporters who turned up that the team could get a result against quality opposition and hoped that this would cause them to turn up in their numbers when Hearts kick-off their SPL campaign at home to Motherwell on Saturday.
Post-match, Csaba also praised his side for their team spirit and discipline but conceded that there are still many mistakes. He singled out Jason Thomson and Jonathan Brown, who came on at half time to make his first team debut, for the confidence they showed against English Premiership opposition. The confidence gained should make preparation for the season opener a bit easier.
All-in-all I think that what Csaba proved yesterday is that he can get a result when it matters. The supporters that showed craved a result and a committed performance and they their expectations were met. Hull are a week behind in terms of their pre-season preparation but they are still an English Premiership side, even though newly-promoted. At the same time it is important not to get too carried away. Competitive matches are a whole different ball game and the team will need to raise their game even more to get off to a winning start on Saturday.
Hearts: Banks, Thomson (Ivaskevicius 80), Zaliukas, Berra, Driver (Cesnauskis 88), Kingston (R Wallace 86), Jonsson (Karipidis 58), Stewart, Palazuelos (Brown 47), Ksanavicius (Mikoliunas 71), Mole (Makela 79). Subs not used: MacDonald, Rapnik, McGowan.
Hull City: Myhill, Dawson (Cooper 85), Ashbee (France 85), Turner, Barmby (Halmosi 63), Geovanni (Garcia 67), Folan (Windass 46), Boateng (Fagan 59), Ricketts, Marney (Hughes 80), Gardner. Subs not used: Duke, Doyle