Capital derby now biggest game in country says Joe Jordan
AS A former Hearts manager, Joe Jordan knows whereof he speaks when it comes to Edinburgh derbies.
His first game after replacing Alex MacDonald in September, 1990, was a visit to Easter Road, where a brace by John Robertson and another goal by Craig Levein provided him with a 3-0 victory.
Jordan’s enjoyment of the fixture is coloured by the fact that, in 12 encounters, he didn’t taste defeat, winning six and drawing the remainder and he’ll be an interested observer when the clubs meet for the first time this season at Leith on Sunday.
“I came to Hearts fully aware of the importance of the games against Hibs,” said the 60-year-old, back in Scotland to promote ESPN’s coverage of games north of the border. “Winning the derby can win you time. It gives you breathing space to try and develop things the way you want. Thankfully, I never lost a derby game so it bought me time while I was in charge. Obviously not enough, though!
“The Scottish Cup final was a killer for Hibs. Now they have the chance to put that right. For their players and supporters, there are a lot of wounds still to heal from that day.
“With The Rangers in the Third Division, Hearts v Hibs is now the biggest game in Scottish football.”
Hearts started well with a 2-0 victory over St Johnstone and Jordan believes the next three seasons will present their best opportunity since 1986 to become champions.
“There will be boardrooms and supporters who expect their club to compete and deliver: it’s not just down to Hearts to do that, there are other teams. Celtic have to stay focused and not take things for granted.
“There are clubs in Scotland who won championships a long time ago but the door is open now. They always used to claim that they couldn’t win a championship because Rangers and Celtic were there.
“Now that reason has been taken away and they have the chance to do something about it. It’s psychological.
“Before Jose Mourinho arrived at Chelsea they had gone 50 years without winning the title. The club had very good players under Claudio Ranieri prior to Mourinho coming.
“But what Mourinho did was bring a new mentality. He absolutely threw that at them. He said they had to prove they were championship material. He told them there were only one or two players good enough to win the league. They responded to that and became successful.
“When you haven’t won the championship for so many years there is a barrier you need to break down and he did it. There’s a big incentive there for the other teams – finish above Celtic and you’ve won the league.”
Jordan was on the coaching staff at Tottenham last season when the London club came to Tynecastle and handed their hosts a humiliating 5-0 home defeat.
“We played extremely well but I looked at the team they put out and it was obvious they wanted to promote the young lads,” he said. “That’s a delicate thing because you need the balance.
“ou need some experience, so you don’t kill the confidence of the kids. That’s the future but they have to be educated. That comes by learning from good pros. Derbies aren’t easy when you’re young, but it’s down to the manager to make sure he gets the blend right.”
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