Hearts Approach Games Against Celtic Entirely Different To How They Play Against Our Rivals.

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I have just watched 78 minutes incorporating one of the most astonishing displays of tactical ineptitude I’ve ever witnessed.

Honestly. Is that what we’re calling it? Tactical ineptitude?

Because there are other names I could think of. It was obvious from the earliest moments of the game that Naismith’s dire run against the Ibrox side would continue; they stood off them to the extent that Lundstram and Cantwell had the freedom of the midfield. Their attacking – if you can call it that – was woefully disjointed. It was completely incoherent.

Before the game kicked off the general feeling on Celtic social media was that it was a waste of time Hearts fans showing up for that one today. Naismith hasn’t tried a leg against them at any point, in any match except the League Cup Final, and it too was characterised by sitting back and standing off instead of getting in their faces … the strategy which worked wonders for Motherwell, Celtic, Ross County and Dundee. It could have worked for Hearts.

We know it could have worked because when they come up against us that’s exactly how they play; it’s how they’ve beaten us home and away in this league campaign, it’s why they would have been a difficult and tricky cup final opponent, and they could have been if Naismith adopted the same approach to games against them as he does to games against us.

Other clubs have figured this out. This is his fifth go at it, and he did everything wrong that he’s been doing wrong all season long against them. Clement must love coming up against this guy. He never learns. He never improves. It’s not often I find myself embarrassed for Hearts fans; today I was, because they are the ones who were basically cheated here, and not by bad officials or some grand SFA conspiracy, but by their own head coach.

Those Celtic fans who said over the last 24 hours that their counterparts from Tynecastle were as well not showing up were proved 100% correct in that assessment, and I was proved 100% wrong in it because I thought that they surely had to show up today with a robust game-plan and go for the throat of an Ibrox team which is reeling and rocking and which I don’t think is a lock to beat St Mirren next weekend, and who I feel very comfortable facing in the final.

Hearts tactical decision making was abysmal from start to finish. Against our midfield three, they respond in kind and they fight for everything. I have never seen a team leave such gaps in the middle of the park as Hearts did today; it was woeful, and it lasted the whole game with Naismith not even making the slightest effort to correct it.

I felt sure he had to with his first series of subs; instead, he bizarrely ended up with three wingers and a central striker on the pitch, and no midfield to get the ball up to them. If the intent was self-sabotage that’s how you might have gone about it.

There is no way that he will play like that against us. Having sacrificed a cup final, the match with Celtic will be the cup final, and he will do his level best to help Ibrox take the campaign to the last day. Because he’s got one more opportunity that afternoon to hand them points and goals on a plate and I have not got the least doubt that he will, in any event.

That will make it six losses out of six against a single club, far and away the worst record he will post against any other opposition in this league, and his fans have to realise that there’s something badly wrong there, that’s there’s something out of whack … especially when you watch the radical difference in approaches whenever they play against us.

Naismith’s team didn’t try a leg today. But they’ll be out of the traps at Celtic Park in a couple of weeks time. I don’t doubt that for one single minute. You can read this guy like a book. He has no interest whatsoever in inflicting damage on the club across the city … even at the expense of the one he’s manager at. That was a shameful performance.

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