Friday, 19 August 2011

Hearts 0 v 5 Spurs - The Breakdown

Click here or read below for my article on the five goal thrashing Tottenham Hotspur dished out on Heart of Midlothian last night. It was published on The Away End.

More Than Money To Blame For Hearts Big Loss To Tottenham

Jermain Defoe puts Spurs 2-0 up at Tynecastle
Tynecastle was the scene of a real eye opener for Scottish football on Thursday evening. The third force in the country were ripped to shreds by last season's 5th placed Premier League opposition. Tottenham were always expected to overcome Hearts, but the fixture was supposed to, at Tynecastle anyway, be a slightly closer contest.

Fans and pundits alike suggested that 15,000 roaring Hearts fans would intimidate the Spurs players and, if an early goal was scored by the Edinburgh side, anything was possible. These glorious dreams were shattered just five minutes into the match when World Cup runner-up Rafael van der Vaart opened the scoring for the visitors. Clearly, there was actually a complete lack of fear or intimidation amongst the Tottenham players as they began to carve open the static Hearts defence with ease.

To be frank, the notion that Spurs would be intimidated by the atmosphere at Tynecastle is quite ridiculous. After all, it was only ten months ago that Tottenham, with their goalkeeper sent off and 4 goals down after 35 minutes, almost staged the comeback of all comebacks against Inter Milan in front of 70,000 people at the San Siro. Spurs ultimately lost 4-3 that night, but they showed no fear.

Back to Thursday evening, the most obvious issue was the gigantic gap in quality between the two sides. This is due to the amount of money each club can afford to pay out. Tottenham's annual wages in 2010 came to £67 million, while the Hearts wage bill was roughly 7 times inferior, at just £9 million. Therefore, the Jambos were never likely to have the quality to match Tottenham for lengthy spells, but certainly, to be two goals down after just 13 minutes suggests that there were other issues for the Edinburgh side.

Paulo Sergio, managing just his 4th game in charge of Hearts admitted his side gave their English opponents “too much respect” in the first half. The “too much respect” line is a common one from managers, but it would be hard to disagree with the notion that Sergio did not set his team out correctly either. Tottenham's talisman, Van der Vaart, appeared to have acres of space on the pitch and it is almost beyond belief that Sergio did not have the audacity to have him man marked, or at least closed down more efficiently. Although Sergio may plead innocence regarding his player's awe and admiration for Spurs, thus resulting in a cumbersome first half performance, he must accept blame for his players trying to play his new “build from the back” philosophy, which is utter lunacy against a vastly superior side like Tottenham.

Sergio may have made some errors, but the fact of the matter is that this was one of the more sizeable mismatches the Europe League play-off draw could have plucked out. However, the quick capitulation of Hearts is without doubt, a disappointment and controversial owner Vladimir Romanov should not escape some blame either. The recently sacked Jim Jeffries knew this group of players far better than most, after all, he signed half of them. No matter how many DVDs, training sessions and matches Sergio had managed to watch of his Hearts side, the knowledge he would have had on each player and the team's strengths and weaknesses would not have been as complete as his predecessor. Romanov may have been correct when defining his dismissal of Jeffries as a consequence of a terrible run of form, but the timing of the decision was sheer madness. If Hearts were able to overcome Paks, which they did, Romanov should have been aware that whoever the Jambos were to play in the next round, they would be up against it. Therefore having a new manager just in through the door for such a difficult match was a big, big mistake. Now, the consequence is a new record of the biggest European defeat for Hearts in their history.

The worrying aspect, is that the Jambos have egg all over their face, yet it's only half time.

written by Will Lyon

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