HEARTS may be going through a bad run of results at present but the style of football they are trying to play will pay dividends in the future, according to manager John McGlynn.
The Edinburgh team go into tonight’s game at St Mirren having won only once in the league this year, against bottom team Dundee. McGlynn’s options have been limited by injuries, sales and suspensions, and, normally, he would have rested some of his young players by now. But the manager insisted he has faith in their ability, and believes both himself and his squad will gain in mental strength as a result of their present difficulties.
“If it doesn’t kill you it will make you better, type of thing,” McGlynn said yesterday. “You become stronger for it.
“We had quite a difficult season last season at Raith Rovers and you get through it. I went to a pro-licence presentation with Marcello Lippi – and Andre Villas-Boas as well – and even guys like Lippi have to go through spells where their teams are maybe not doing particularly well.
“A lot of football people out there realise I’m having to put young players in. The style of football we’re playing is a really good one. It’s pleasing on the eye.
“I think people recognise that we’re trying to play good football, that the young players are trying to get the ball down and pass it. That will be the long-term future of this football club. That will make us better in the long term. The experience that they’re gaining is massive, and the future is extremely bright when you look at the age of these guys and how well they’re playing.”
Hearts’ 3-2 defeat by Inverness Caley Thistle last weekend was the third consecutive game in which they have lost three goals, and McGlynn has become the focus of discontent from a section of the Tynecastle support.
However, he believes that the majority understand what he is trying to do, and are aware that the club’s financial plight has severely restricted his room for manoeuvre.
“I think the majority do. You will always get a minority who are unrealistic and won’t see it, but that happens no matter where you are. If Neil Lennon loses a few games, there are rumblings, so it doesn’t matter who you are, it comes with the job.
“But I think that the majority of the fans realise that, well, it’s not that long ago that we had a winding-up order and they could have lost their football club.
“They would have taken just being alive, just surviving. In some ways, that’s what it’s going to be this season, just getting by so we can regroup in the summer.”
Having namechecked Celtic manager Lennon, McGlynn then mentioned Rangers boss Ally McCoist, as he returned to the theme he addressed earlier in the week on Hearts’ website – namely, that his club were being singled out for criticism this season just as McCoist’s had been last year.
“It’s the same as Rangers last year. When you are down, people just boot you. That’s how it goes. Ally McCoist has been through that as well. That’s why I would appeal to the Hearts fans to stick together.
“I’m not talking about Hearts fans booting us – I’m talking about everyone else. So let’s get together and fight against all the teams we need to compete against. We’ve got enough battles out there without having to battle among ourselves.
“It’s the same as Rangers, isn’t it? Everyone loved just booting them.
“I think people probably feel that we’ve overspent and all the rest of it. Which might well be the case. To some extent we’ve brought it on ourselves.
“How do you stop it? You start to win football matches – that helps. That is the thing that makes all the doubters go away, win the matches. It’s not as simple as that, because of the circumstances we’re in but the future is enormously bright because of the experience being gained by players now.”
Hearts and St Mirren will meet again in the League Cup final on 17 March, but McGlynn does not expect tonight’s game to give too strong an indication about how the Hampden match might turn out.
For a start, he hopes to have more players available for the final – in particular, midfielders Ryan Stevenson and Scott Robinson, who miss out this evening through suspension and injury respectively.
“Scott has picked up a knee injury – it’s a recurrence of an old injury, a tear on the meniscus,” added McGlynn. “Worst-case scenario, it would need a tidy up. We could nurse it through to the end of the season. He’s seeing another specialist.”
Stevenson is serving the last of a three-match ban, while longer-term absentees Jamie Hammill, Danny Grainger, Marius Zaliukas and Callum Paterson remain on the sidelines.