Category: Archive

Soccer Scene: Burley’s Hearts to challenge Firm monopoly

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Burley’s side has won its first 5 games opening a 5-point lead on Celtic, Kilmarnock and Hibernian. Rangers are below the leading pack on 9 points with a two-goal difference while Hearts have scored 10 more goals. Burley is off to a flyer and it’s likely his team will improve. That’s his trademark.
Since Burley has taken over the reins last June he has signed eight new players. The most recent being Brazilian midfielder Samuel Almeida Camazzola. Depth is what Burley claims will improve Hearts’ chances of making it to Europe at the end of the season. And the way things are shaping up that depth might also rattle the stranglehold the Old Firm has had on the Scottish Premier League for far too long.
The 49-year-old Burley is no slouch when it comes to football management. Rebuilding squads is his forte. He has a very good track record and knows what it takes to bring a team forward. In 2000, he took Ipswich to the English Premier League. Little wonder that Hearts club chairman George Foulkes described signing Burley as football manager as a “significant coup” for the club.
Burley has been given a two-year contract at Hearts. New owner Vladimir Romanov has shown much faith in his manager and has supported his requests for new signings. Money, it seems, is not an issue at Hearts, at least for Romanov, it isn’t. Also on board is Lithuania striker Edgaras Jankauskas who played for Porto when they won the Champions League.
The 30-year-old Lithuanian forward has also played an important role for his country in getting them on the football map. His experience across the European stage is going to enhance and strengthen the attack at Hearts. “He is a big lad but has a terrific touch,” claimed Burley. Jankauskas is working hard to get back to match fitness but keep an eye on him for Hearts. Other players who are said to be under the search light for Hearts are, Colin Cameron, Wolves, Michael Lamey PSV Eindhoven and Czech forward, Michal Pospisil. Burley has impressed his piers at Hearts with his shrewd interest in players both young and old. The right price has also put a smile on the administrative faces and of course the Hearts fans now love their new manager.
Old Firm watch out. Hearts are pumping new blood on the field with Takis Fyssas, Rudi Skacel, Roman Bednar, Saulius Mikoliunas and Deividas Cesnauskis. The foreign footballers have arrived at Hearts. The Scottish Premier League could be on the brink of a new day that will see the Old Firm challenged. The only problem is can Hearts hold on to their Burley when the bigger EPL clubs come a knocking. It can devastate a club when that happens. We are witnessing it at Celtic.
Although Martin O’Neill left Celtic for personal reasons, it seems the club is slipping. Not progressing in the UEFA Champions League last season cost the club a lot of money. O’Neill was dealing with his personal issues as early as the preseason camp back then. The Hoops were already rolling backwards even before their CL exit. It did look promising, as the season closed but there just wasn’t enough left in O’Neill’s tank at the last hurdle. Now Celtic is once again claiming just how devastating the financial loss was. Haven’t we heard all of this before? Isn’t this the same old story? Seriously. Aren’t you sick to death listening to how Celtic have no money? Give us a break.
The most important interest is on the field under new manager Gordan Strachan. Right? At the minute he’s doing okay. On 10 points and lying second in the league the fans will take that. But there is some concern at the frustration shown by Celtic captain Neil Lennon when he was suspended. Then in skipped Bulgarian wizard Stilian Petrov who now claims he is very interested in the EPL, but not at the moment. What does that mean? Not at the moment Come on bhoys. You are either a Celt or you’re not. The faithful love Petrov, he’s an excellent player but the timing of his EPL statement is off. He gets the captaincy one day and the next he’s letting Fulham and the like know he’s available to pursue. As for Lennon, he needs to control himself, as this is a very sensitive time for his new manager.
Apparently no new players will be signing even if Petrov leaves. It is also rumored that Fulham is also interested in Bobo Balde. “If something exceptional comes along and we could afford it then yes but there are not many exceptional things we can afford at the moment,” said a disappointed Strachan. Doesn’t sound too good. Does it?
Let’s hope leading goal scorer John Hartson stays healthy. The elegant Welsh forward is tipping away and still knocking them home. Alan Thompson and Craig Beatie have done well to get three apiece so early on. However, it’s Maciej Zurawski that the faithful need to see more of on the score sheet. He has to keep his scoring going for Celtic to maintain their challenge for the league title.
Joining Celtic on 10 points is Kilmarnock and Hibernian. It’s all-good for Scottish football to see the minnows up there this early on. Let’s hope it stays that way. Back in 5th place is Rangers on 9 points. Guess Ally McLeish wasn’t joking when he said he was apprehensive about the Rangers start to the season.
Rangers are going to settle down as will Celtic. The Old Firm will test the endurance of the smaller clubs. As the season ticks away injuries will take their toll then depth becomes the all-important decider. And although Celtic and Rangers are crying these days, fans are not totally sold on their complaints. Nevertheless, there is one reality that the Old Firm will have to contend with this season. At the minute it’s Kilmarnock and Hibs but long term it looks like it’s Hearts to lay down the gauntlet. Led by George Burley, Hearts are setting the tone in the early running. And it seems there will be no shortage on depth as the season moves along.

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