Lawrence Shankland says that his team has to up its game if it is to get results against Celtic and the team across the city. Frankly, if they did as much talking on the pitch as they do off it they would have nothing to worry about.
And here’s another suggestion; they might stand a better chance of getting somewhere if they actually showed up for business whenever their opponents are the club across the city. Don’t tell me that Neilson has the same commitment to beating them as he does us, because I’ve watched their games against both sides and he absolutely does not.
When it comes to Celtic games, every one is played like a cup final.
Against Celtic, they show up for business. We can be in no doubt about that. They try against us. Neilson puts his heart and soul into trying to get results. They’ve ran us close a few times. They were the first team to beat Ange Postecoglou in Scotland.
But when they come up against the Ibrox club something strange seems to come over them. They do a lot of mouthing in the media, but then Neilson does weird things with the team selection. Twice now in recent years he’s done this, changing the formation, playing his footballers in weird positions, almost as if it’s an act of self-sabotage.
Surely not though? So what exactly is it that comes over him?
Because BBC Radio Scotland’s commentary team were honestly baffled before the game in midweek when they heard the line-up and saw the formation. They could not fathom what it was that he was trying to do. In the aftermath Neil McCann described as a “failed experiment.” That’s one to put it I suppose, but why pick that game to try it?
It seems clear that Hearts were absolutely all over the place from the first minute of the match, and he stood and allowed that to continue. The Mooch’s side has struggled against almost every opponent it has played since he took over … yet they rolled over Hearts with ease, and with the same personnel who have huffed and puffed for weeks.
If I were a suspicious minded man I’d say it was suspect.
And it was weird to see Shankland in the press today talking as if it was just a bump in the road instead of a major reversal. It is bad enough that certain managers seem to lack bottle when they face off against The Mooch and his team … but Hearts barely turn up at all.
That’s the first thing they need to get right if they’re to “improve.”