Once the recognised third force in Scottish football and last year’s Scottish Cup winners, Hearts find themselves in a state of disarray as they face a buoyant Motherwell at Tynecastle today. Having sacked manager John McGlynn, Gary Locke finds himself in temporary charge against The Steelmen.
There has been little to choose between the teams on their previous two meetings. A solitary strike by Danny Grainger at this venue back in October has been the only goal in one hundred and eighty minutes of football.
Tynecastle is an intimidating arena, with the normally fervent home support ‘right on top’ of the players. It would be fair to say that no team in Scotland in recent years has relished going there. It is certainly not a place where any Scottish team could expect to easily pick up three points.
Stuart McCall is making all the right, respectful noises with regards to how tough he expects the match to be. Surely, though, he must seriously fancy his charges to take all three points.
The form of James McFadden against Celtic on Wednesday was a positive boost for McCall. Henrik Ojamma worked tirelessly, annoying the Celtic defence constantly. Michael Higdon, not always a fans’ favourite, keeps scoring goals! His finish for the winner against Celtic was sublime. Tom Hateley and Fraser Kerr also return to the squad, making Motherwell look in a very strong position.
Gary Locke, on the other hand, is left to pick up the pieces after John McGlynn’s exit. Ryan Stevenson returns after suspension and Michael Ngoo is expected to recover from a knock. The players unavailable to play for Locke makes horrendous reading for Hearts’ fans. Grainger, Zaliukas, Hammil, Scott Robinson and Callum Paterson to name but five!
Even with an old ‘new face’ in charge, Hearts will do well to take a point from this match today. Having lost four on the bounce, it is more likely that the three points will be travelling back with Stuart McCall’s men to North Lanarkshire.
Prediction: Motherwell victory