A season where Hearts were aiming to build on the solid work done by Robbie Neilson went from flirting with second in the league to finishing up with one win in their last ten. It’s been memorable, in the same way as seeing your parents riding each other is memorable. You don’t want to acknowledge the memory but it’s there forever at the back of your mind. Be kind and call it a season of transition or be cruel and call it the dog meat buffet that it ultimately became.
Jack Hamilton – 6
Here’s how best to summarize Jack’s season:
– Make a series of solid saves
– Palm an innocuous 40 yard shot straight to a strikers feet to give away a goal
– Repeat for 40 odd games
There is talent there and without doubt, over time, a solid and dependable keeper but Hearts frankly ludicrous handling of the goalkeeping situation in the close season meant instead of being able to bleed Jack into the squad over the course of a season, he was thrown in at the deep end and has been inconsistent, like the majority of his team mates. He’s also suffered from Hearts ever changing/injury-stricken defence. A settled defence and another goalkeeper of quality to challenge him for the jersey are a must.
Viktor Noring – 5
It got to a point where most Hearts fans wondered if Noring was A) even real and B) actually had hands. There were times during the latter part of the season where the case could have been made to drop or “rest” Hamilton but Noring couldn’t get a sniff. Then he got his chance at Ibrox and it all made sense as to why he’s not been given the nod so far. A baffling decision to punch a cross into the air when he could have caught it, nipped out for a shite and come back to pick the ball up again before a Rangers player got near him, cost Hearts a goal. His distribution leaves a lot to be desired as well with almost every kick at Celtic Park pulling out to the right and out of play. Most definitely not the standard required to be challenging for the number one spot.
Callum Paterson – 7
Look. Callum could tell me he had a fuckbunker under his house full of murdered Swedish backpackers and it wouldn’t matter. His loss this season shouldn’t be played down, nor should his imminent departure. A player who runs through brick walls for the team, wins his battles and chips in with goals. We may never see a player like him come through our ranks again and as we’ve seen since his injury, the whole dynamic of the team changes without him. Was having a solid season until his leg decided it wanted to shatter into a thousand pieces. If he’s the same player when he returns whoever picks him up has won big.
Liam Smith – 5
If Callum Paterson were a bag of crisps, he’d be Monster Munch Flamin’ Hot – Liam Smith would be a packet of Salt N Shake. Put your money on him winding up out on loan or being gobbled up by Gary Locke.
Andraz Struna – 6
Nobody likes change. Replacing Paterson with Struna made sense on paper. Another attacking full back with international caps to his name but Struna has rarely lived up to the hype. A handful of solid performances but he’s just never been able to really kick on and make himself an automatic first pick. There’s every chance by the time this has been put online he won’t be at Hearts anymore (Ed: he isn’t) and that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Lennard Sowah – 5
Appears to have taken a loan of Oshaniwa’s CRAZY LEGS, as well as Juwon’s inability to hold a position defensively. Or get a cross in past the first man. Still, it was nice to have a left back who was actually left footed for a few games. The very definition of a “raw” player but it’d take a lot of time to smooth down all those rough edges in his game. He does possess a wonderful ability to do the sublime, taking the ball out of defense and beating a handful of players, and then immediately follow it up with the ridiculous, by punting it right out the park into the window of the high school next door.
Krystian Nowak – 6
We’ll get the obvious out of the way first – Krystian is a fucking dreamboat. Like proper-shooting-love-hearts-out-your-eyes-when-you-see-him dreamboat. On the playing side he’s been solid if unspectacular. He did a wee turn as the defensive midfielder when Cathro first arrived when we attempted to push Perry Kitchen further up the park and has played at the back as well, performing OK and nothing more in both roles. Very similar to Ozturk. A player who looks fine with the ball at his feet and bringing it out of defence, but lacks that mad bastard edge that Blazej Augustyn had to him last season. Needs to be willing to stick players into orbit along with distributing the ball well. A good back up to have for next season. A certainty to be all over the player calendars that are released and then sold in January.
John Souttar – 6
Souttar has all the attributes to be a great player but just before injury hit, his play was plagued with the kind of mistakes you’d expect from a young player. The club have looked to address that with the addition of Hughes and you’d like to think a year together on and off the park will do him wonders. A player Hearts desperately need back quickly.
Aaron Hughes – 6
Precisely the kind of signing Hearts needed to make in January when our all our defenders either suffered from malaria/were sold/had limbs fall off. An experienced pro who could organize and still cut it at this level. Yes he’s old but as Kenny Miller continues to show, if you look after yourself, it’s not an issue to compete in the SPL in your late 30s. Will be an important player on and off the park going forward.
Tasos Avlonitis – 2
In January what Hearts really needed was four or five real quality signings, instead they opted for what appeared to be a couple of genuine quality signings with some quantity to beef up the numbers, along with this shithouse who appears to have won his contract from a box of Corn Flakes. Comically bad at times and was rightly dropped in the end. If he’d kept playing there was no doubt his shorts would have fallen down like something out a Mr Bean sketch. One of the first to be released when the season ended, thank fuck.
Alex Tziolis – 4
Like a horrible hybrid of being Catfished/done over by a Scooby Doo villain. Tziolis strolled through his first couple of games with his cock in one hand and a bottle of expensive wine in the other. We read all about his pedigree and couldn’t help but be impressed. Then he whipped off his mask at the end of the season to reveal it was Chic Charnley. The only way it would have been more obvious for Tziolis to show he didn’t give a fuck would have been to wander round Edinburgh wearing a sandwich board that had “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK” written on it, whilst ringing a bell screaming “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK” having just legally changed his name to Idont Giveafuck.
Perry Kitchen – 5
Not fancied at all by the new gaffer. The club captain has spent most of the second half of the season on the bench with Cowie taking the armband. You get a shift from Perry, he does the dirty work and always looks to keep the ball moving but it seems his style of play won’t fit in with how the club wants to play under Cathro. A player you don’t imagine being happy to play second fiddle, he’ll be one looking to possibly engineer a move away from Edinburgh.
Jamie Walker – 6
Jamie was playing so well that come March there was genuine shock that he wasn’t included in the Scotland squad for the friendly against Canada. Since then he’s disappeared off the face of the earth and hasn’t scored a goal since January. Physical or mental fatigue will have undoubtedly played a part in his form dipping, so he’ll need to work hard in the close season to ensure he can go the full campaign at a high level. Apart from trying, successfully, to get himself sent off you’d be hard pushed to think of something he’s done in the last part of the season.
If Jamie could also stop growing in moustaches that make him look like the kind of creepy loner who hangs around a bowling alley smelling his fingers every time they’ve been in a ball that would be great.
Prince Buaben – 6
Has had to be patient this season and probably didn’t expect when he did get a run out it would be as a center half but Prince has performed admirably there for a guy who last played that position when he was a teenager. His frailties were exposed against better opposition but showed he can be a handy player to keep around the squad. Technically very good with the ball at his feet and was always looking to play the ball out from the back instead of sending it into the stratosphere.
Aroud Djoum – 5
What the actual fuck happened at The African Cup of Nations? Arnoud Djoum left as Hearts best player and came back looking like he’d been drinking the whole time. We can only hope he uses pre-season to sober up because if he keeps up like this he’ll be punted back to footballing obscurity. An infuriating campaign from a player who was marvelous during 2015/2016.
Sam Nicholson – 5
Hearts premier Spice Boy looks set to be shown the door now. Who will cut in from the left onto their right foot over and over and over and over now? Just hasn’t been at the races at all this season. Wherever he goes next had better have a Nandos close by.
Don Cowie – 7
Remember The Don’s first game and the mess people got themselves into? He’s been exceptional for us since then. His commitment and effort are never in question. Always looking to press the play and never dropping the level of intensity has seen him become the first name on most fans team sheets. If only the other bodies in midfield matched his effort.
Moha Choulay – 4
A signing that perfectly summed up how fucking ridiculous our January transfer dealings were. Hearts needed another creative outlet in midfield to prevent Jamie Walker from burning out, or throwing Rory Currie in too early and to provide competition to Sam Nicholson. Someone who could also cope with the physical demands of Scottish Football. What’s that? You’ve got a wee winger whose body has been built out of wet lollypop sticks? Cool.
Technically a good player but he couldn’t handle players flying into the back of him. When Hearts played Inverness at home in February, Ross Draper looked at Choulay like something he’d eat as a pre workout snack.
Malary Martin – 4
So, so badly off the pace in terms of fitness and match sharpness. A player in desperate need of a pre-season. He’s been in and out the squad since his arrival for these reasons but when he has been on the park, it’s hard to quite put your finger on what he’ll bring to the team that we don’t currently have. He doesn’t have the physicality to be the deepest sitting midfielder and doesn’t have the legs to take on Cowie’s workload. It could come good, but I’m not convinced.
Isma Goncalves – 8
Let’s get the negatives out the road quickly, and they’re very minor. The shift in tempo from the league in Cyprus to Scotland means Isma has found himself blowing out his arse early doors. It’s not that he’s a lazy or unfit player, it’s just going to take a little bit of graft to get up to speed. But he’s come in and got goals. He works incredibly hard and keeps going for the 90. If Hearts can sign wisely in the close season to find a player to work alongside him he’ll tear it up.
Bjorn Johnsson – 6
Bjorn’s head has been mince since Neilson left for MK Dons. In Neilson’s last game he was outstanding, giving Kiernan and Wilson a torrid time. If rumours of a bust up in Perth are true then he needs to be sent packing. There’s no point in hanging round when your head and heart aren’t in it. Another frustrating one when you know what he’s capable of.
Rory Currie – 6
Praise the lord for some positives at last! Rory looks to be a gem. Like Walker he’s a player who knows how to use his frame well against defenders. He has a desire to get stuck in, good feet and excellent movement. This is a player we should be careful with and not wind up doing what we did with Hamilton and throwing him to the wolves.
As for those who left…
Igor Rossi – 5
Started showing a lot of flaws to his game and we lucked out with the cash we were offered in January. Says a lot that at no point since his departure has anyone said “we’re really missing Rossi at the back”.
Alim Ozturk – 5
Honestly, who gives a shit what Alim does or did any longer? When you score a 40 yard long banger against Hibs you get to be mind bogglingly pish for the rest of your life and still not have to worry about buying a drink in Gorgie ever again.
Conor Sammon – 4
You always want it to work out for a player who signs, but you’d have had more chance contracting super space aids than Conor smashing in 20 odd goals in a season. If Kilmarnock could do us a solid and keep him forever that would be great, but with a clause built in that he can’t play against us – I’m mentally not strong enough to handle him coming back and pegging a couple of goals past us.
Faycal Rherras – 5
Captain Malaria saved a few certain goals with his face, had a stinker against Rangers at Ibrox and never saw the light of day again. Fine moving forward but a liability at the back and another full back on our books who couldn’t hold a position and bizarrely wouldn’t press attacking players until they were effectively inside the six-yard box.
Robbie Muirhead – 6
Jet fuel can’t melt my love for Robbie. He only got a handful of minutes at Hearts but looked the part. Thanks for the goals against Rangers you nutty bastard.
It’s only fair to give the manager a score as well…
Ian Cathro – 4
In a results driven business, it has not been good enough for Cathro. Five league wins in twenty two games. Of course there are mitigating circumstances – he initially inherited Robbie Neilson’s squad, which Neilson had done incredibly well to get the most out of given their limited numbers and abilities. The defense was ripped apart through injuries and sales. The signings made in January by those in charge were not of the required standard. Throw in the new manager attempting to instill a new philosophy and playing style onto a patchwork squad, it was always going to be hard going. On the rare occasions when it has clicked, Hearts have been fluid and dominated possession, creating a host of chances and playing with real confidence. Unfortunately that’s usually followed by getting our arse handed to us the following week with one shot on goal.
These shouldn’t be used as excuses or a get out of jail free card for Cathro. He now has a very short period of time to rectify the issues in his squad and get them performing the way he expects. The grace period is over and for many fans he is on borrowed time. Hearts start next season with away games, the clubs kryptonite. If he’s going to get fans back onside he needs to hit the ground running or it’s going to be near impossible to defend his position. Players respond well to training and are enthusiastic about the methods but that has to transfer onto the park now.
<insert broken laptop based patter here>
Written by Meestah Sahmon