Saturday, January 30, 2010

MaCalamity no more?

The news that Hibs have signed Mark Brown as back up to current number one Graeme Smith must surely bring to an end the Easter Road career of Yves Makalambay. Once more we in Scottish football must mourn a true maverick.

For some time now he has been a figure of fun. One of his final appearances came when he appeared as a half time substitute against Falkirk earlier this season. His every gangling step as he entered the fray was greeted with ironic cheers from the away support. If he wasn't already convinced that he needed new goalkeepers then the boost that just seeing Makalambay gave the visitors that day will have persuaded John Hughes to make changes.

(As an aside, just what has happened to the man he replaced that day? Graeme Stack hasn't been seen since. An injury more serious than feared? Or more mysterious reasons? The gossip I hear could not possibly be published without prior legal consideration. Feel free to have a guess in the comments section in true Holy Moly style).

Unfortunately for Makalambay some of his errors have been so remarkable, and at a club that has struggled between the sticks for some time, that he was destined to be consigned to the SPL's dustbin of comedy players. Even his choice of shirt number, 50, hinted at a man who didn't really understand his job.

In fact he was capable of some great goalkeeping. He seemed to suffer from some kind of reverse Alan Rough syndrome. Where Roughie could appear entirely uninterested in a game for 85 minutes only to switch on and excel for five minutes of action, Makalambay seemed to keep focus for the vast majority of the game only to let his mind flicker to what he was going to have for his tea at the crucial moment when a simple catch was called for.

Still I wish him well. His style is unorthodox but there's nothing wrong with that if it can be coupled with a stronger mental approach. For all that, he plays the game with a smile. As his teammates, managers and fans howled their disbelief at his latest blunder he seemed to shrug it all off. Maybe he's worked out the secret. Whisper it, but this is just a bloody stupid game after all.

So good luck Yves. And, if any fans of whatever lower league English team he ends up with stumble across this page, here is a clip of one of his more inexplicable moments.

Home is where the Hearts is

A pub conversation on Thursday night centred around SPL managers who might soon be feeling the cold blast of unemployment.

Tony Mowbray and Csaba Lazlo were the two names that cropped up most often. My own take was that Csaba was safe if he got to the end of the transfer window without getting embroiled in a full scale bust up with his lord and master.

Well, I never claimed to know anything about football.

My mistake was, of course, to predict anything about events at Tynecastle which, since Vladimir Romanov arrived back in 2005, has housed our least predictable club.

I'll miss Lazlo and his meandering discourses on the most simple of questions. And, much as the fare on offer has been at times turgid this season, he has done well at Hearts. He knew there were deficiencies in his team. He even highlighted players he felt capable of solving the problems but his hands were tied by his absent but tyrannical owner.

Almost as soon as Lazlo had taken his leave his replacement was installed. Step forward Jim Jefferies, Hearts first manager of the millenium coming back to replace their tenth.

The prodigal returning after almost a decade in the wilderness to lead the faithful to glory? That will be the script that Hearts fans long for.

The pull factors for Jefferies are understandable. He's a lifelong Jambo, he had his greatest managerial success at Tynecastle and the wage will no doubt prove a tidy addition to the pension when he takes his leave from the game in a few years.

But Jim, a man whose innate glumness makes him something of a mascot for this blog, seems like a strange fit for the mad, Vlad world that Tynecastle has become.

Latterly, of course, Jim had problems with his chairman at Kilmarnock but I'm not sure dealing with Michael Johnson is decent preparation for the experience of working for Romanov.

Maybe, just maybe, his stoicism will bring the stability that Hearts crave. And we don't know what assurances he has been given, or indeed if any such assurances will be honoured. The signing of Darran Barr would at least give an indication of Hearts intent for next season.

But I keep coming back to that unpredictability. I've always though of Jim as more of a football pools man than a high stakes Vegas casino man. And this job looks to be a gamble, the chance of a solid CV being punctuated, even ended, by a cameo role in the Romanov circus.

Jim will hope not. The Hearts fans will hope not. But only Vlad will be able to provide the answers.