Well I suppose it could have been worse. Club owner Vladimir Romanov made a rare appearance by jetting into town to sell off Christophe Berra to Wolves, and took in the defeat to Hamilton for his troubles. Unfortunately, though unsurprisingly, no replacement was brought in for Berra – unless you count 17-year-old Marius Zuvokas – and further to this, manager Csaba Laszlo will have to go the rest of the season with no obvious goalscorer amongst his ranks.
It could be argued that Gary Glen is the obvious candidate for an extended run in the first team to see if he can grab the goals the side sorely lacks, although Csaba has already urged caution in throwing him in too often too soon. Either that or he doesn’t like the attitude of the player because the ability is evidently there.
Csaba will more than likely stick with Christian Nade, whose scoring record is so awful it is becoming a joke. Not only that but he doesn’t even look close to scoring. There seems no reason to be optimistic on that front.
Elsewhere on the park we are more of less covered. From left to right we have an abundance of midfielders, the goalkeeping situation is the best it has been since we had Craig Gordon and we are decent enough at full back. Eggert Jonsson’s versatility is enough to make up for the fact that we only have one recognised first-team left-back.
The only other cause for concern is the space left at the back by our recently departed captain. Jonsson filled in for Berra on Saturday, and had done the week previous in the absence of Marius Zaliukas, but has proved during these performances that he is not a central defender. In the last two matches, during set pieces, he has allowed his man to peel away from him and score.
Although in his defence, I have no idea why he was marking Simon Mensing in the first place – he’s just not commanding enough. And that is the reason he cannot play in this position. Against Hamilton he barely won a header all day, something that was bread and butter for Berra.
I don’t want to be unfair to Jonsson. He is still young and, as I have pointed out before, has been one of the stand out performers for us this season, even though he hasn’t played one game in his natural position.
So what are the options?
Christos Karipidis came to the club as a central defender but found the competition too much. This season under Csaba he has flourished in his newly adopted defensive midfield role. Moving him back to partner Zaliukas would potentially weaken the midfield but we have cover there in Ruben Palazuelos. Either him or Jonsson. Just not Jonsson at centre-half please!
The other option is young Ryan McGowan, under-19s player of the season for 2007/08. McGowan has only made a few substitute appearances and obviously lacks experience. However, he is highly rated. It took Berra time to get comfortable with becoming a first-team regular, like it did for Paul Ritchie did ten years previous, and they both went on to become fine players for Hearts.
Yes we would have to be put up with a few ‘green’ moments if McGowan became Berra’s replacement, and he may cost us a few points in the run-in for an ever-tight chase for a Europa Cup spot, but I am confident he will grow into an exciting player.
In his debut against Gretna last season, I remember him beating four players in a Dave McPherson-type run. Although this is most probably not the skill he’ll be known for. Mind you, neither was Dave McPherson!
I am almost certain that Csaba will stick with the same defence that lined up against Hamilton. However I hope that I am wrong in this assumption. The best short-term solution would be to sacrifice Karipidis from the midfield but the most preferable option, in my own opinion, would be to give McGowan the chance to show what he is made of.