Robbie Neilson has urged his foreign players to get wise to the physical demands of Scottish football in order to improve Hearts’ disciplinary record.
The Tynecastle club collected their fifth red card of the campaign when Brazilian defender Igor Rossi was sent off in their 0-0 draw against Hamilton Accies at New Douglas Park yesterday.
It’s about what you can get away with and what you can’t get away withRobbie Neilson
Rossi joins fellow overseas summer signings Blazej Augustyn, Juwon Oshaniwa and Juanma Delgado in being dismissed so far this season.
Gavin Reilly is the lone Scot to have been sent off for Hearts, albeit Callum Paterson was also shown a red card on their first visit to Hamilton back in August which was later reduced to a yellow card by the SFA on appeal.
Hearts boss Neilson had no complaints with referee Bobby Madden’s decision to produce a straight red card for Rossi’s two-footed challenge on Hamilton midfielder Darren Lyon before half-time, which will rule the defender out of next weekend’s match at Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
“A lot of our red cards were not for bad tackles, they were for silly things,” said Neilson. “It’s boys coming over to this country, not knowing the environment and how things are dealt with. It’s about what you can get away with and what you can’t get away with.
“We got a boy [Juanma] sent off at St Johnstone but if he had done that in Greece or in Spain, nobody cares. You just get on with it. Whereas here, if someone goes down, you get a red card. They have to learn to adapt to that style.
“Today, Igor has gone in with two feet and it’s happened very quickly. It was the right decision. If you go in with two feet, it’s a red card – end of story. He’s going to miss next week’s game and he only has himself to blame. It was a silly challenge and hopefully he won’t do it again.”
Neilson played down what appeared to be a confrontation between himself and Hamilton midfielder Darian MacKinnon at half-time. MacKinnon, one of four players booked in a match which also saw Hamilton substitute Jesus Garcia Tena sent off in the closing stages, was among those who reacted angrily to Rossi’s foul.
“I didn’t have a word with him,” insisted Neilson. “There was a set-to but that’s the way you have to play the game. You’re on the astro here and it’s very hard to pass the ball because it doesn’t hold up. It’s about competing and Darian is a competitor. That’s what he’s in the team for, he wants to get close to people and be aggressive and we have to deal with it.
“It was the same the last time we were here, we had to deal with that physicality. It’s up to the referee to deal with it as well and it told a story Darian was taken off at half-time because if he’d made another one second half, he would have been off.”
Hamilton manager Martin Canning admitted he substituted MacKinnon at half-time to ensure he did not add to the yellow card he picked up for his part in the fracas after Rossi’s tackle.
“Darian is an experienced player but I felt right from the start the Hearts bench were in the fourth official’s ear about two or three tackles he made,” said Canning.
“That’s part of football. I know Robbie well, he is just passionate and wants his team to win and I’m the same. I have absolutely no issue with it. I just didn’t think it was worth the risk keeping Darian on.
“He got booked obviously in the melee after the sending off and I just felt it wasn’t a risk worth taking leaving him on the park. I felt they would be at him to try and get him booked to get him sent off.”
Canning added: “I told them at half-time to keep 11 men on the park but Jesus made a bit of a lunging tackle and got himself sent off.
“At that point we were in control of the game, we were trying to win it, so it’s frustrating we end up in the last few minutes trying to hang on to get a point out of a game where we’ve been so dominant in terms of possession.”