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Chick Young's view

Chick Young
By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

We had all the fun of the fair available at New Douglas Park: they're just working on a few adjustments in the tunnel of love.

As the players and some of the staff of Hamilton Accies and Hearts exchanged Christmas greetings at the end of another bloody Sunday for the SFA disciplinary committee to consider, fans of the Tynecastle side would do well not to let the red mist fog the perilous state of their club.

Heart of Midlothian are a shambles.

The pictures of Michael Stewart disappearing up the tunnel in the wake of his ordering off, aiming a kick at a water bottle and spectacularly crashing in quite the most special impersonation of Norman Wisdom I have seen in some time, summed it all up: at the moment Hearts can't even do anger properly.

A scuffle broke out at the end of the Hamilton and Hearts clash
A scuffle broke out in the tunnel at New Douglas Park

How can they possibly consider an appeal against his dismissal? It will cost a bond of £1,000 to present his case. They would be better advised to put it on the first favourite at Musselburgh.

His reaction to an innocuous challenge from Alex Neill was ridiculously theatrical. Stewart is a gifted player but it is blindingly obvious what missing elements have stopped him from reaching the very top.

Still, he has not wavered in his contribution to a crime count which makes his club the serious offenders of Scottish football.

In the last five campaigns they have gathered 312 yellow and 38 red cards and must surely have a standing order with the SFA bank. But discipline is at the periphery of their problems.

Csaba Laszlo has been at the club for 17 months, by most standards hardly a tour of duty at all. Hardly worth buying a house.

But by the normal terms of employment of Vladimir Romanov, Laszlo is gold watch material, easily the most successful at dodging the Lithuanian bullets.

And yet every Saturday - or indeed in the wake of the shattered peace of a Hamilton Sabbath - you half expect to hear that he has just picked his last Hearts team, if indeed it is he who is selecting the starting eleven in the first place.


Of the current squad who did he want to sign? And who, among them, was brought to Tynecastle on the whim of the owner whose favourite Christmas toy this year seems to be his Kaunas basketball team Zalgiris?

Romanov appears to have lost interest, maybe accepting what most of us said when he declared Hearts would be European Champions within five years of his embracing of the club: that he was clearly delusional.

Basketball, the game for big boys who couldn't play football, is now flavour of the month. Maybe Zalgiris will be able to whip the Harlem Globetrotters any day soon.

The trouble is that Hearts seem to have too many players who aren't much good at football either. Unlikely though it is, results this weekend could contrive to send them to second bottom spot in the SPL.

That leaves them some considerable distance from the owner's original target.

But while we all warned Romanov against dressing room interference, his removal from visible boardroom activity is a little more concerning.

Here is a club £30m in debt and a rather less attractive potential purchase than Rangers who owe the bank the same kind of figure. If they are not queuing up to view the premises at Ibrox, then the estate agents will have some job on their hands at Gorgie.

And talking of the property, what happened to the redevelopment plans for the new stand - cancelled, perhaps, because of lack of interest from the owner?

Hearts shouldn't be flirting with relegation, nor should they be making headlines about tunnel brawls. Once they were bigger and better than that. Once they were a class act.

Now they are in danger of becoming no more than the cast aside plaything of an absent landlord.

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see also
The battle of New Douglas Park
07 Dec 09 |  Scotland
Hamilton play down tunnel fracas
07 Dec 09 |  Scottish Premier
Hearts facing indiscipline fine
07 Dec 09 |  Hearts
Hamilton Accies 2-1 Hearts
06 Dec 09 |  Scottish Premier

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