Heart of Midlothian Football Club - 2019/20
So, Hearts then. One of the Scottish capital's two major sides and Edinburgh hasn't seen a top division title since 1960, so ultimately, I'm here to attempt to break the monopoly that Celtic and Rangers have had on Scottish Football's elite league for a long time.
I need to clever at Hearts, money is sparse in Scotland and more so if you're not the Old Firm so my transfer strategy was always going to be different. I need to find value in 'other' places than the norm. Having looked at it, England is overpriced, as is the Scottish Premier League and I cannot afford anyone from any of Europe's major leagues. I began the search in Scandinavia and have since expanded it further afield.
Summer Transfers In - Sixten Jensen (from Sogndal) £150,000, Tashan Oakley-Boothe (season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Mirza Husic (free transfer from Braband IF), Ola Solbakken (from Ranheim) £25,000.
Summer Transfers Out - Euan Henderson (to Dundee United) £30,000, Sean Ward (six month loan to Edinburgh City), Aidan Keena (six month loan to Livingston), Callumn Morrison (to Vitoria de Guimaraes) £27,500, Ola Solbakken (loaned back to Ranheim for six months as part of transfer).
I decided I needed a right winger as a matter of urgency. Callumn Morrison looked okay but that was about it. While he was an Academy product, I felt we could do better and after some scouting, Sixten Jensen was the man to come in. Oakley-Boothe was an unexpected signing, really. I didn't need a centre midfielder but after a couple of injuries at the back end of pre-season, I needed cover and Oakley-Boothe fit the bill. Husic is an 18-year old Bosnian centre-midfielder, signed from the Danish third tier. He's not close to my first-team, however he has potential to be decent at SPL level and for no fee, it felt a god signing. Solbakken's signing was a long-running saga that plagued my summer. Identified as a key player by my scouts and having a low asking price, I set about signing him. His wage demands were problematic but we eventually, at the third time of asking, got it over the line on the proviso that he went back to Ranheim for six months, which I'm happy with as I have two good left wingers for the time being. I will phase him in when he arrives in February, as I have a loanee from Manchester City, who'll leave at the end of the season.
Hearts 6-0 Forfar Athletic - Betfred Cup Group D
Montrose 1-4 Hearts - Betfred Cup Group D
Ross County 0-1 Hearts - Betfred Cup Group D
Hearts 3-0 Elgin City - Betfred Cup Group D
Excellent. The whole campaign revolved around that trip to Ross County and thankfully, we passed our first proper test with relative ease. Forfar, Montrose and Elgin were games we should have won and did and I didn't fancy any of those sides to test us in a game or for qualification.
Hearts 1-1 Celtic
Hamilton Academicals 0-4 Hearts
Hearts 3-2 Ross County - Betfred Cup Second Round
Aberdeen 2-2 Hearts
Hearts 0-0 St Johnstone
While Ross County was our first test of the season and an indicator of where we were at, nothing compared with starting the season against Celtic. A draw was the fair result and it gave me a new found confidence in the squad, that the Betfred Cup wasn't a phase or an unfair indication of the squad, to follow it up with a 4-0 drubbing away at Hamilton was more than pleasing. We then drew Ross County, again, in the Betfred Cup and they provided a sterner test but we ended up winning, thankfully. The last two games of the month were a mixed bag, the Aberdeen game was a lucky escape, we probably should have lost, whereas St Johnstone, it was a hammering but we couldn't put the ball in their net.
Kilmarnock 1-3 Hearts
Hearts 4-1 Livingston
Hearts 1-1 Aberdeen - won 4-3 on penalties - Betfred Cup Quarter Final
Rangers 0-0 Hearts
Another month, another month without defeat. Kilmarnock and Livingston were won with relative ease, the last two games were the key ones. Thankfully, Celtic and Rangers drew each other in the Quarter Finals and we had a tricky game against Aberdeen, which was, thankfully, won on the lottery of penalties. Rangers was another big indicator of where we were and we kept them at bay and did have a goal disallowed of our own.
Hearts 2-0 Hibernian
Hearts 2-1 St Mirren
Motherwell 3-1 Hearts
Ross County 1-2 Hearts
Derby games are always big for me and by this stage of the season being unbeaten, I couldn't lose to Hibs. Thankfully, we started without them, we were two up inside seven minutes and it took them roughly an hour to get a grip of the game, but by that point the damage was done. St Mirren was a sign of what was coming, in hindsight. We were poor but nicked it in the 83rd minute. Motherwell, well, they were excellent and we were shocking. They rocked us with an early goal and we didn't recover and they hit us with a sucker punch of a second just before half-time, we managed to get a goal back after 68 minutes and late on, I rolled the dice and went to an "attacking" mentality, to which, Motherwell hit us on the counter and won it. Ross County were Ross County, we beat them again and they weren't much cop but the score flattered them.
Celtic 2-3 Hearts - Betfred Cup Semi-Final
Hearts 2-2 Hamilton Academicals
Celtic 2-1 Hearts
When the Semi-Final was drawn, I was hoping for St Johnstone or Dundee United but we got the one nobody wanted, Celtic. Could we actually turn the two draws against the Old Firm into a win? Yes, we could. We lead after 9 minutes through a Jamie Walker penalty and Celtic chased us from then on. They showed their quality, pegging us back twice before Tashan Oakley-Boothe smashed one in with seven minutes left. Excellent, a matter of months in and a Final, it's happened quicker than I imagined. The Hamilton game was a bit of a mess, I rested a few players and those that come in, did nothing to make me think I should be playing them for. Celtic then got their revenge on us a week or so after beating them at Hampden. I think on another day, we could have nicked a point but they're a quality side.