I provided the match preview for the abandoned game on the 16th January entitled, 'Travels with Rangers'. It was not a preview in the accepted sense, more an immersion in the warm waters of nostalgia. My mind set was most similar to the vast majority of my fellow Bears, the light was quickly dimming and hope of preserving an ember was becoming ephemeral. I was determined not to succumb to anger, over-egging a rancid pudding is unedifying and a symptom of discipline lost. The initial preview was hopefully a welcome distraction amid the dying of the light?
The reaction to the game's abandonment by the usual suspects was damning, this was a new snow white canvas where the death throes of Rangers could be depicted. Apparently, the efforts of Rangers ground staff were inadequate, Hearts supporters had been subject to attacks on the icy approaches to the Broomloan, Rangers administrative staff had been assaulted at the main door, and Hearts supporters buses had been smashed whilst static on the M8. This was just the reporting of BBC Radio Scotland. Tom English, Allan Preston, Richard Gordon, and Liam McLeod generated a toxic wave of bilious air that succeeded in clearing the pitch.
Of course, "Hearts are a model club". It's a constant refrain and admittedly, in many ways it's true. They went with youth, they adopted the living wage, they will be sponsored by Save the Children, .......... etc. All underpinned by a solid foundation of Hearts supporters and the added buoyancy provided by an attached raft of cross-party political support. Shrugging off in excess of £25million of debt has been as easy a task as the Jambos strolling to a deserved Championship. The continuation of being the recipients of a dozen red cards season after season is a live torpedo saved for next season when they meet ra Sellik on four occasions. Currently, the good ship Hearts sails in calm waters with no thoughts of passengers and crew being marooned.
The absence of extra floatation provided by cross party political support MUST NOT be lost of Rangers supporters. Sincerely, I hope the new Board are attempting to rectify this situation, like yesterday. I know it's a question of priorities and everything appears to be an absolutely must fcuking do at the moment, but a clear strategic head is required. Whatever transpires at the culmination of this season, we should use Hearts as our model in the immediate future. Sometimes, you have to fight the battles with the weapons available, it's a recognition of situation. Hey, it's Easter, as Mott the Hoople once sang, 'lets roll away the stone'.
The game itself presents quite a surreal situation. We are unbeaten in eight games, a win at Starks Park and victories against both Cowdenbeath and Hibs, bookends five draws. I was impressed by the manner of the last two wins. Hibs held a high midfield line and we had a lot of space in behind for Clark and Wallace to charge into, and the Blue Brazil's late equaliser was dismissed in a three goal seven minute whirlwind. Momentum is the key word, we must not lose on Sunday, and I think that can only be achieved by playing for the win. We know how Hearts will set up and we know their approach. We need to repeat the energy and application of our visit to Easter Road.
In the first league game of the season, we attacked on the left with a combination of Wallace and Templeton. Hearts resisted by having five players booked by half-time. Hopefully, Sunday will see a combination on the right side at least attempting to pin that flank too. McCall is angling towards McGregor and Shields as a combination. I rate Dean as a player but positional discipline is not his strong suit. The correct pairing on the right flank is indicative of the entire team. Our best central defensive pairing, our preferred front two pairing, an effective central midfield pairing; all remain unresolved. Ally's legacy is damning.
I suspect our flame haired manager will play a 4-2-3-1, with Bell behind McGregor, McCulloch, Zalukas, and Wallace. The two will be Murdoch and Black(controversial), supporting Templeton, Law, and Miller. Nicky Clark the Easter Bunny on Duracel running the channels.
Ending on a happier note, my highlight of last season was the Youth Cup final against the boys in maroon. St Mirren Park was the venue and our under 18s faced a Hearts starting line up with six Premiership first team regulars. I believe they had amassed a few appearances less than 100 among their number? We worked hard and held on, coming from behind twice to go on and dominate extra time. We won the cup on penalties, having earned the right in the extra 30 minutes. Show that spirit and we might sneak it 2-1.
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