In this slideshow I will be looking through the current crop of players to decide which ones are worth keeping and which ones are the deadwood that need to be thrown away. I will also recommend players that I feel would fit well into the Hearts system that Jim Jefferies has employed with us plus taking a guess as to which players will really go and come in, which is harder as it could be someone that I've never even heard off.
Although the current squad has slightly underperformed this season we have got a very decent side and with a few additions and a few of the deadwood out we should really be challenging for Europe. One of the problems with the current squad is that we lack experience as our squad, especially our frontline, as it's mostly young players from the academy, which isn’t necessarily bad, but at the moment a lot of them just are not up to scratch.
Anyway if I look at each individual position it helps to reveal where we are strong and where we are weak.
In my opinion this is our strongest position. Janos, Marian and Jamie have all been extremely reliable for us this season when called upon and I would think that JJ agrees that if these three stay then we're fine there. Obviously though Marian's contract is up at the end of the season and it would be a huge blow if he wasn't too sign one as I feel that currently he is our best goalkeeper.
Verdict - Keep all three
The Thomson’s. Jason rose onto the scene two years ago when we were in the bottom six after Frail decided to give the young ones a chance and he hasn’t disappointed since with steady performances in all his appearances. Craig became a talent this season when he made his debut in the 2-0 win against Zagreb at home. Both players are good players but do they have the experience needed for the top flight? I’m not so sure but I would definitely be disappointed if one of these two were to go.
Verdict - Keep both and with Darren Barr from Falkirk already coming in during the summer we should be fine.
At Left Back we have two of our best players at the club, Lee Wallace – probably our most valuable player and Jose Goncalves – Our best player during Laszlo’s tenure this season. This position shouldn’t need strengthening. But wait a second it will do with Jose’s contract up at the end of the season and him having turned down a new deal to stay at the club. Also with Wallace being our prized asset how do we know that Romanov isn’t just sitting in his comfy chair back home in Lithuania for a call offering Hearts around 2-3 million pounds?
Verdict – With Jose almost certainly leaving it definitely needs someone as a back up to Lee and if Wallace does leave who will be the one to fill his boots?
Currently we have five centre backs. Dawid Kucharski, Jose Goncalves, who I explained about in, left backs, Ryan McGowan, currently on loan at Morton, Ismael Bouzid and Vice-Captain Marius Zaliukas. In past seasons that would have been more than enough centre backs but this season it’s not been as recently players like Lee Wallace, Eggert Jonsson and David Obua have been filling in there because of injuries to everyone else. Before considering bringing in new ones we have to ask is our current crop up to the standards when fit anyway? I believe yes. If Jose wasn’t leaving then he would be our key man at the back but Zaliukas and Bouzid are also good players and I firmly believe that they two are good enough to be our centre back partnership for the next few years. McGowan looks a really good young boy and I also think that he will be not only our future first choice centre back but also a future captain of the club. Kucharski hasn’t done much, fair enough he’s not had too many chances, but without the reserve league this year in matches he has played for the first team he’s not been match sharp because of a lack of game time and therefore I believe that he should be given another chance next season.
Verdict – Keep our current batch minus Jose unfortunately but bring in someone more experienced, as I would prefer to see Barr play right back.
Both our right midfielders have great potential. Suso, who was given stick in the middle of the season despite being injured and trying to come back from injury without even reserve games into a league where he is still settling, and David Templeton who in his few games for the club looks like he could be a key player for us for years to come. But do we need some more experience? For once I will say no as I think that the potential that these two possess can pay dividends for Hearts.
Verdict – Keep both of them.
Here is our best player, Andy Driver, and one of our best youngsters, Arvydas Novikovas. If Driver is our best player then why is Wallace our prized asset? Well, because of Drivers injuries over the last year. That is why Romanov needs to keep Driver so we can get one last full season out of him before we get our money for him. In the past Romanov has been criticised for his policy of bringing Lithuanians to Hearts but Novikovas looks the real deal. He’s got pace, skill and tremendous crossing ability on him and I believe that once Driver leaves he has the ability to be our first choice left midfielder.
Verdict – Keep both of them.
Plenty to choose from in centre midfield. Eggert Jonsson is a terrific young centre midfielder who is extremely versatile, which helps a lot, Ruben Palazuelos is another who always gives 110% and seems like a great player to have at the club. Ian Black hasn’t set the world alight since he’s joined but being a Hearts fan he gives his all every game and is a player I like because of it. Larry Kingston is the villain of the piece in the eyes of some Hearts fans but on his day he is one of the best players at the club and under JJ he’s improved back to the player who first joined the club. Ryan Stevenson was JJs first signing when he came back and has impressed in the games he has played. This leaves the captain Michael Stewart. I do like Michael but believe that with his contract up at the end of the season if he left it wouldn’t be the worst thing because out of the two centre midfielders who are out of contract, Kingston being the other one, he would be the least missed as while he’s been injured we’ve done well recently.
Verdict – Let Stewart go but keep the rest and offer Kingston a new deal.
This is the position with the most problems. First we have the newest member to the striking department David Obua. Obua never really hit it in the SPL, whether that was because he wasn’t in the right position or he was complacent as he had his ex international manager in Laszlo and thought the was guaranteed a starting place is debatable, but Jefferies has certainly found a role that suits Obua as a target man. Christian Nade the man that Hearts fans love to hate. He’s the easy target as he seems quite lazy and despite me believing he does have something to offer Hearts I don’t think his contract should be renewed. David Witteveen, currently on loan at Austria, always seemed like a strange signing and I don’t think he should stay but I still wish him all the best because it’s not his fault that Romanov brought him in to case a friction with Laszlo. The rest of the strikers are products of the academy. Calum Elliot is at a make or break point in his Hearts career now and has never really lived up to his potential due to injuries, being put out on loan and just a loss of form in general. Jamie Mole like Calum just doesn’t seem to be able to cut it at Hearts. The rest (Gary Glen, Gordon Smith and Scott Robinson) look like really good players who are starting to get there in their Hearts careers.
Verdict – Remove the deadwood by not renewing Nade’s contract and getting rid of Witteveen, Elliot and Mole but keep Obua and the three youngsters still growing. Then bring in at least two new ones to compete.
So whom would I go for? Well:
Scobbie would be a good replacement for Goncalves in my opinion and would learn a lot from Wallace to help him on his way to become a future Scotland left back as well.
The Middlesbrough centre-back would be a good signing on loan in my opinion. He's young and would be looking to impress so if JJ was after a centre back I'd see if he was available.
Kyle would be a good signing for two reasons. One he's available for free due to his contract running out and two Jefferies was the man that got Kyle's career back on track at Killie.
The yong Dundee forward would fit in with a youthful frontline and would add much needed footballing ability to it.
Vokes might be available on loan because he hasn't really settled into the demands of the Premier League at Wolves but he's young, hungry and would be looking to impress.
Freddy would add much needed experience to the frontline and I believe he would be a good signing for the club though I'm not sure how much he would cost.
If Romanov gives Jefferies some money, I'm sure the Scottish players that I've mentioned will be on his radar and possibly the English and Welsh players but they are less likely!
Anyway whatever happens in the Summer - LETS BACK JEFFERIES ALL THE WAY. C'MON THE HEARTS!
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