Moira Gordon: Wee Templeton’s talent should not be undervalued – least of all by himself
DURING the last transfer window, Ryan McGowan posted a photo on Twitter of his friend David Templeton, jokingly bound and locked away at a so-called secret location. The message was clear – he didn’t want the wee winger going anywhere.
But with another deadline approaching, Rangers are again interested in signing him. It is now up to Hearts whether they want to let him go and whether the lad who was given the middle name Cooper, after the Rangers wing wizard Davie, wants to follow in his namesake’s footsteps and ply his trade up and down the Ibrox flanks.
However, last night he looked comfortable on the Anfield turf, mixing it in the middle of the pitch alongside the likes of England captain Steven Gerrard and he gave £15m Joe Allen as tough a game as the Welshman has endured since his arrival on Merseyside, working tirelessly.
Once again Hearts gaffer John McGlynn had him tucked in behind the central striker, John Sutton, and he proved a nightmare to pick up.
Watching in the stands was Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov. The murmurs were that he was over to perhaps rubber stamp any departure. But looking on last night, he must have believed that bigger and better offers could come in for the lad who was promoted from the academy and continues to mature.
From the minute he took the kick-off, Templeton was surrounded red shirts. Hardly surprising given Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers respect for the former Scotland u-21 international’s skills and ability to unlock a game.
Templeton was a player the Anfield boss has been monitoring for a while and was linked with an interest in him while still at Swansea. However, consistency has been the Hearts player’s main downfall. On his game he is worthy of a bigger stage. But the bigger stage requires guaranteed performances.
The gamble for club – and player – is whether he can manage that and therefore secure the kind of move that would put any possible switch to Ibrox in the shade. It’s a gamble they have to weigh up before midnight tonight.
Last night may have made it easier for them to do that. With all the headlines linking him with the Old Firm side, some may have turned his head. If Templeton did let the speculation into his thinking, he channelled it in a positive way. Out to impress, he succeeded.
Far from overawed by the occasion, the footballing glitterati or the magnitude of the task or price tags, he tried the wee flicks, feints, the cheeky backheels and the surprises. But he also read the play well, getting onto the open spaces, picking up passes and linking well with his fellow foragers. He also dug deep, showing the graft and the pace to get back when necessary and help plug gaps which were in danger of being exposed by the men in red.
It is said that Hearts would only consider letting him go for a “substantial” fee, but certain commentators have also suggested that could be between £500,000 and £1m. When compared with the men who surrounded him last night – some earning that kind of money in little more than a month – it would seem they may be selling him short.
The concern, of course, is that his contract is up next June and come January they could lose him for nothing, especially if he keeps turning in eyecatching performances. But that is an “if” and a “maybe”. But losing him now could prove even costlier to the side. Lacking strikers and still desperate for a replacement for Ian Black and Rudi Skacel in midfield, he at least excites in the supporting role. Even in the warm-up, as the team went through their shooting drills, he was one of the very few who found the target. Even if they got decent money for him, McGlynn would have little or no time to use any of the money he was given to spend wisely.
Templeton was hungry from the get-go and his shot had to be blocked in the box when he sped onto a Sutton back heel.
Using that speed he also left Liverpool midfielders in his wake. The home guard were left tangled up as they tried to get back at him but they couldn’t stop a ball into the box, which Sutton almost turned into something special.
The hunger he had to impress went deeper. Like the rest of the Hearts starting XI, he wanted a result and he fought with them to provide it.
It was Bill Shankley who said “We come not to play, we come to fight. We’re warriors. Warriors do not play”. Last night, Templeton came to play but he also came to fight. And Pepe Reina fumbled his shot over the line with six minutes to go, he proved his worth. And surely he’s worth more than a place in the Scottish Third Division.
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