Hearts fans warm to Everton striker with Duncan Ferguson traits and derby goal will seal affections
This act of persistence seemed to have sealed the deal. It was as if the Hearts fans were saying, yes, you will do for us.
The Tynecastle side have been crying out for a No 9. The on-loan Simms certainly looks like he will fit the bill although as manager Robbie Neilson was careful to point out afterwards, the 6ft 1in forward is far more than just a target man.
This was perhaps for the benefit of his own players as much as anything else because Hearts did seem to opt for the Route One option more often than normal in the opening stages.
It’s very easy for teammates to settle into a habit of sending long balls in the direction of an imposing figure even if it is contrary to what they have been instructed to do.
Craig Brown used to complain that’s what happened whenever Duncan Ferguson played for Scotland, which is a relevant comparison. Ferguson has been a big influence on Simms at Everton. Frank Lampard is on the verge of being announced as the new manager at Goodison Park and it’s unknown what role – if any – Ferguson will have in this new regime. Simms would miss him. “We do finishing drills and he gives me little tips, it’s an honour to work with him and learn from him,” he said.
Ferguson was supportive of his move north of the Border. “There were a few loan opportunities for me, but when I heard about this one it enticed me,” said Simms. “I knew it was a competitive league and I knew this was the place to be to improve my game.”
Like Ferguson, Simms will have to deal with being typecast as a battering ram forward when it’s clear he is very comfortable with the ball at his feet. He certainly looked very at ease on his full debut when rolling in his first goal for Hearts though he could barely miss from a couple of yards after good work from Cammy Devlin and Liam Boyce. The tap in just before the hour mark put Hearts into a commanding lead after Andy Halliday’s first half opener.
Now focus turns to tomorrow night’s Edinburgh derby. Simms has experience of Everton v Liverpool fixtures for the Under-23s, where he played against current teammate Ben Woodburn, who’s on loan at Hearts from the Anfield club.
Other than these games and watching one senior Merseyside derby from the stand, an all-Lancashire clash between his then on-loan club Blackpool and Fleetwood Town is the limit of his derby experience - and that was a long way from what awaits him in the first Edinburgh derby at Easter Road for nearly two years.
“It was a little feisty, but it was during Covid times, so there were no fans there,” he explained. Ferguson sealed his place in Evertonian affections when he scored his first goal for the club with a towering header against Liverpool in 1994. Simms is already off the mark but will feel the love if he can make a similar impact in a derby tomorrow.
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