In terms of results it has been a poor start for new Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo. He began his tenure with a 1-1 draw against Northern Ireland side Glentoran before losing 1-0 away to First Division Dunfermline two days later. For many of the one thousand Hearts supporters that travelled through to East End Park on Wednesday this was unacceptable, which was evidenced by the boos that could be heard at both the half and full time whistles.
I am not entirely sure if the crowds’ frustration was aimed at the players or the new boss but I find it a little premature to be piling on criticism two matches into pre-season and just three days into Laszlo’s reign. I still remain unconvinced as to whether he is the right man for the job but I am certainly willing to give the man time.
For a start the results of the matches are meaningless. They are about match practice not results and even though the performance may not have been up to scratch, it is the same squad of players that lead us to an eighth place finish last season. Furthermore, can we really expect anyone to turn things around in a matter of days? I remember a time when managers were given years to turn things around at a club, and I am not that old! Even though I accept that football has changed dramatically in the last ten years and that owners, boards and supporters expect instant results, surely with the state the club is currently in, Laszlo and the players should be given a lengthy period of time to sort this mess out.
Yes some of the players have been given plenty time already to show what they can do and have failed to do so but confidence is low at the club at the moment and it would be hard to argue that the turmoil at the club in recent seasons has not affected this for at least some of the playing staff.
Some need to go, yes, but Laszlo has already indicated that he wants to trim the squad and has made it clear that he prefers quality to quantity. Calum Elliot looks as though he will be the first on his way and I am pretty sure more will follow.
Laszlo said in his post match interview on Wednesday night that he needs to sign two or three players with experience, he also said after the Glentoran match that the players did not communicate with each other enough on the pitch. These are two things that most Hearts supporters I know agree with. We lack leadership; we have done ever since Pressley and Hartley left. We have Steve Banks at 36 but how much leadership can you really get from a goalkeeper?
One of the reasons for having pre-season friendlies, especially when a new manager is appointed, is to highlight the weaknesses of a team and to get an idea of what needs sorting out. Granted there are many things that need sorted out at Tynecastle at the moment but at least Laszlo now has an idea of what these are and he should be judged on how effectively he remedies them. He will also want to implement his own system, tactics and training methods and these will take time to take effect.
Hearts leave for their pre-season tour of Germany on Sunday and this will give the new manager a chance to restore some team spirit and belief that is sorely lacking in the squad in recent times. By the time the competitive matches start, hopefully there will be a few new additions and the team will be playing with the passion that has been missing in the last two seasons.