Thursday, December 10, 2009


So the panto season descends.

And wasn't Michael Stewart happy to get straight into the slapstick comedy. His red card was harsh, his subsequent Tony Adam's style, vein popping tirade at the referee was stupid and his tumble in the tunnel is already becoming the stuff of legend.

From Stewart's tunnel tumble to the mass tunnel rumble ensured that Sunday's game against Hamilton was not just any other defeat for the beleaguered Hearts team.

It is perhaps too easy to draw a parallel between the psychology of a team enduring a run of poor form and the psychology of a club in turmoil.

Easy, but perhaps not too far from the truth. Chick Young tackles this in his BBC website column (technophobe Chico still won't call it a blog) and for once gets it just about right.

An absentee owner, a manager unsure of his position, players who aren't good enough and others that are being dragged down by them. And a list of unanswered questions longer than Tiger Woods' cocktail waitress call sheet.

Apparently Vladimir Romanov is now taking a keen interest in his Lithuanian basketball team. The sports involvement seems to massage his ego. But he remains a pragmatist: this is no sudden conversion to American sport. It's simply that running a basketball team in Vilnius is likely to be a damn sight cheaper than running a team capable of winning the SPL.

None of its his fault, of course. The rotten core of Scottish football defeated his grand plan rather than any folly on his part. His yes men at Tynecastle are powerless to turn the tide of events.

Rumours swirl around Edinburgh like the wind on the Castle Esplanade. There is nothing unusual in this, of course, gossiping about the misfortunes of others has sustained the city through centuries of winter chills.

But we all know that the financial situation at Hearts makes the Icelandic economy look like a viable business model. Wicked whispers, which remain just that, suggest to me that at least one big Hearts name is now conceding that administration might be the most satisfactory of likely outcomes in the next few months.

Against this miserable backdrop the players have to try and do their jobs each week. It can't be easy, it is made harder still by a signing policy that agrees to the recruitment of players who are just not up to the task. Such a situation must lead to frustration. It's easy for that frustration to boil over as they did on Sunday.

And all that becomes part of a vicious circle. With no money and suspended fines hanging over them Hearts can ill afford the disciplinary record that their financial situation must be partly to blame for.

Added to that is the SFA's apparent threat to investigate "non-monetary" for future misconduct. At this stage in their season a points deduction could be catastrophic.

As with much of the Vladimir Romanov reign, things could get a whole lot worse before they get better for everyone with Hearts in their heart.

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