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The Luke Henderson Story

Finding a way in Scottish football
Started on 22 December 2019 by Luke Henderson
Latest Reply on 23 June 2020 by TheLFCFan

#067 - Why is everything always against us…

16/12/2029 -- Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. So much bad luck… I stopped counting. The game is really hating me currently. We did win a lot of games, but we are also losing way too often. We score a lot, but we also concede a lot. Our defense is really poor this season. We gave goals away so easily… Most of the against goals aren’t even from proper field play from our opponents, but we just gave them away after a fatal mistake by one of the defenders. We are also conceding a lot of goals by set pieces despite having a lot of tall players who should be able to heads the ball away far more often than they currently do. On top of that we have concede at least ten goals from a rebound or an absolute rocket from outside the box, which is purely unlucky… So we are making it very hard for ourselves to win matches. Thanks to Tompkins who is banging in goals for fun currently we are scoring goals quite easily, but if he doesn’t we are having troubles immediately.

After the BATE match we lost against Rangers and played a draw against Hibernian which means our season is officially done. If we want to win some silverwork this year we have to focus ourselves for the League Cup, Scotch Cup or the European Conference league. After the Hibs game we handled to win against Livingston in the third round of the League Cup and we booked a great 2-1 victory over Dinamo Kiev. But suddenly we lost again against Ross County, although we were by far the better team (which is the case in almost every game we lost…).

After our home loss against Partick Thistle (in which we were the better team again with creating six sitters but scoring only one…) we finally had a solid run including a very welcome result against Aberdeen away in the quarter final of the League Cup. Because of international football duties we had to play with a lot of reserve players (which wasn’t the case for Aberdeen because their squad consists many Englishmen, who are not good enough to play for the national squad) but we did a fine job. In the semi final we are playing against Celtic in our own stadium, hopefully we can make it to the final, although it will be tough for sure!

But the biggest disgrace has to come yet. Dinamo Kiev away. If we lose the game with a difference of only one goal (from 2-1 and higher) we are qualified for the next round. But you probably know what happened… This match only summarized our complete season so far. All the bad luck we could possibly have was gathered together in this single match. We played a very solid first half, but just seconds before half-time Ian Imrie headed in an own goal from a free kick in the 45+2nd minute. The additional time of only one minute was already expired but at the most worse moment we granted them a goal. We completely controlled the match and then this… In the second half we tried to force a goal, but from their only outbreak their striker managed to get a penalty after a tiny push… It was the VAR that made this decision. In all of the 6 group stage matches the VAR was asked to make a decision six times. Not really a surprise to you I think these six decisions were all against us… Of course they are, the game just hates me remember. But David Rae stopped the penalty! Although that doesn’t made any difference because they scored the 2-0 soon afterwards after some terrible defending again. Ten minutes before the end of the game Tompkins banged in a goal suddenly from nowhere which means we are finishing second if the match is ending like this. But only a couple of minutes later it was 3-1 again… Complete chaos in our defensive grants their central midfielder a shot from distance which hits the goal. His first goal of the season of course, as usual. That means we are knocked-out. Despite the fact we reached the magical number of ten points, which should be enough most of the time, but not this time. Of course not. Again we are missing something by only 1 point, or actually one goal this time… It’s really not given to us I suppose.

Yeah, I’m heavily frustrated as you possibly can sort out of it. Especially because almost all of my players are performing really well actually. Normally I don’t show our team statistics if the season is still underway but I just had to do it. Look at it! Everybody is performing so good, even our defenders, despite the fact we are conceding way to many goals. I just have no explanation for it. I still believe it has nothing to do with our tactics (because of the match statistics prove we are almost every time the better team) , we just have a tremendous dose of bad luck at the wrong moments. We have lost many games by only one goal difference, most of the time a very late one as well. When will it stop? When is our luck starting to begin? I literally have no idea anymore…

I have no words! Luck really isn't falling for you this season and that needs to quickly change if you want to win any silverware this season. Otherwise, there could be a sacking looming...

#068 - Only march, but this season is done

06/03/2030 -- So, that’s it. After we lost our quarter final Scottish Cup match against our rivals after a terrible start in which we concede two goals in the first four minutes our season is done. We tried everything we could to force a turnaround, but we didn’t came any further than a header from Strang after a corner kick. Our only hope for winning silverwork, or at least reaching into the final, has gone. It fits perfectly in this season, in which we lost just a few key matches, but just these few key matches screwed our complete season. Although there are still a lot of matches to play in the league (11) there’s not much to win anymore. Aberdeen, Celtic and Rangers are probably to far ahead already and behind us there is not a real threat this far. So I’m pretty sure we are ending fourth in the league. Again a worser performance than the year before, but we’ll take it. We have to! At least it gives us some space to play with a lot of our youngsters till the end of the season and tweaking our tactic a little bit more to make sure next season will be better.

We already signed one new player who is running out of his contract at the end of this year and we also bought another very promising youngster from a modest Championship side for a little amount of money (I will show them later on). I have to, our own academy talents are just shit... But, maybe this year will be different because the technical staff said there are some promising talents! Although I don’t believe much of it until I have seen them myself… The new youth is coming in in about a few weeks from now on, so I’m curious if it will be better then the last decade...

In the winter transfer window we have done another huge transfer. We broke the all-time club record for selling Callum Caldwell (his profile is shown beneath) to Premier League side Southampton for a stunning £18,500,000 pound. We also managed to include a 50% sell through fee, which could bring in a lot of money in the nearby future as well. The club was running out of finances because of all the summer transfers we did and the fact we exceed our wage budget, so there was not much choice to sell him obvious. But I’m okay with it. Most of the time he functioned as a luxury back-up central midfielder, but this season he played more often because of Mimnaugh was injured for a while. He performed quite well, which apparently attracted Southampton at some point. It was no hard choice at all because we are already eliminated in the European Conference League wherefor we could lack a little bit of squad depth. And of course this amount of money is huge for the club! We can invest a bit of it in the clubs facilities to help us forward and maybe we can buy a few cheap talents and earning money from them in the future. This is the main element for earning money I think, because our stadium is just not big enough to generate enough money throughout the season.

Beside of our own finances: at some moment I was taking a look at the team statistics from all the other clubs in the league compared with us. I was very surprised what I saw actually. All the time I was quite convinced we were around the third place in terms of wage money, together with Aberdeen and Hibernian very close next to us. But in fact we are only the sixth biggest team in terms of wage money... Of course Celtic and Rangers are on top, but especially number three on the list has really surprised me. Hamilton. Fucking Hamilton of all places! What has happened over there? Oil money I guess. It must be. When I took a look at their squad I was quite amazed about how much money every player is paid. At Hearts only four or five players are paid more than £10,000 per week, but with them almost everybody! Although they are not spending it very well; so far they couldn’t threaten Rangers and Celtic or even Aberdeen… Actually they are far behind us as well. Also Aberdeen has a big wage budget, but even Hibernian is above us, who are already struggling for years now. So finishing fourth in the league is not as bad as I was thinking all the time…

So yeah. I’m going to play with our talents the rest of the season and I will try to optimize our tactics a little bit where ever needed, which hopefully is resulting in a fully prepared squad for next year. It will be my sixth season with Hearts and probably the last one as well. I will give it one last try to win some silverwork (no matter which one) with this beautiful club and at the end of next season I will take a serious look if a new challenging club is popping up to become their new manager (I’m hoping for England!). By the way, last winter Everton asked me again for being their new manager, but I don’t want to leave Hearts now. I really have faith in the current squad, I just want to kick some ass once more next season. For some reason I have really good expectations for next season. Don’t ask me why! But, that’s far ahead of us right now, I will be back to you after this season is done and do a heads-up again to judge our squad performances.
Hamilton splashing the cash! That's something I didn't expect to see either. A lot of money recouped by selling Caldwell, hopefully he fairs well at Southampton and eventually is sold on for an even more sizeable fee.

#069 - It’s time to rediscover ourselves

28/05/2030 -- Actually it wasn’t a bad thing to finally have some space for redeveloping the team. After almost five years there wasn’t barely any room for it other than the short pre-season periods. Now we had a run of ten games for practicing some things in real matches. The main two things I did was practicing a second tactic and find out which youngsters are good enough to take part in our next season squad. Warning! This will be a huge update. Especially for those of you who are enjoying this story so much, ha-ha!

Since I started this career as a manager I never used more than one tactic at the same time. At Spartans it didn’t make sense obvious. Learning a bunch of amateurs two tactics is nearly impossible. Especially if you take in count Spartans was semi-professional organized and together with the busy schedule there was barely time left for practicing. When I joined Hearts you possibly can remember it was a huge mess from the start. So I wanted to keep it stupid simple. Using a basic tactic without too much player instructions. Throughout the years I optimized the tactic and the season before this one it really sorts out. But I think now the time is right to introduce a second tactic next to our starting tactic. Because we are struggling quite often against the better teams in the league (and Europe as well) I decide to create a more defensive tactic. To keep things clear for the players and having the possibility for switching easily between the tactics I used the exact same formation, but a whole different kind of playing style. Our main tactic will be a 4-4-2 positive system, which means slightly more attacking then we did before (it was balanced) and the second one is some kind of a 4-4-2 parking-the-bus system. Keep every line very tight and small to each other, but maximize the opportunities for fast counter-attacks. We have some pacey wingers, which could be really useful in this system.

In the last ten matches of the season I used the new 4-4-2 parking-the-bus system to get familiar with it for next season. Which you can see immediately according to the results. Excepted the match against Kilmarnock we didn’t score a lot, but at the other hand we didn’t concede a lot of goals as well. We even beat Celtic in their own stadium! Although there are more reasons for it, but later more on that. We were only outplayed by Rangers, but there was a reason for as well: we had to play with our awful reserve goalkeeper in that particular match only because Rae picked up a little injury just before the match. As already said before I also used my youngsters in almost every match. That was really helpful. I have a very good picture now which of them are good enough and which guys needs to develop more. I will talk about it in a minute when I’m judging the performances of my squad.

The main reason we beat Celtic with Rangers dethroning them as the champion for the first time after eighteen consecutive league titles, is because of they sold a whole bunch of their star players both at the start of the season as well in the winter transfer window. They earned more than an astonishing £140,000,000 in only one year, but at the other hand their squad has weakened just a little bit too much. Rangers took advantage of it, which is a good thing I guess. Scottish football definitely needs to be associated with more teams who are able to win the league other than Celtic only. As already expected we finished fourth ourselves. Definitely not a result to be proud of but Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen achieved just far more stable than we did. We are not that far behind, but we couldn’t compete with them this season for a single moment. We need to do better. Way better.

As already showed halfway this season most of the players achieved quite well. The statistics dropped a bit because of the use of a more defensive tactic, but most individuals performed as I expected. I mentioned individuals for a reason. The strange thing is that most players did where they capable of, but as a team it isn’t good enough. So we need some fresh blood, which hopefully re-boosts our team spirit. Playing to long with the same players is probably not ideal I guess. I’m starting with our goalkeepers. I’m quite pleased we signed David Rae. After a somewhat doubtful start he proved he is a far better goalkeeper than Stone will ever be. His rating is not significantly higher, but as you probably know the goalkeeper ratings in this FM are barely reaching a seven even if he’s acting like an octopus. So scoring almost 0.10 higher stan Stone is a big step forward. Spoken about Stone, he is going to leave us. His contract is expiring and he hasn’t any intention to lengthen it. And we didn’t want it too. We wish him all the best in the future. Graham will be our back-up goalkeeper next season. At least he is tall… But that’s pretty much it, ha-ha.

The newbies in our last line performed well. Just as Rae; McIlroy had a tough start, but after I used Williams again and bringing in McIlroy more carefully he played better and better. At some point he overtook Williams and together with Strang they will form a very solid duo. Although 31- year old Williams signed a new one-year deal, he will be our luxury center-back reserve player. Veteran Stuart Findlay is leaving us. His contract is expiring and over the last three season he barely played a match anymore. He is 33 now, probably he will find a new club to end his career. That means we need at least one new center back. Although Imrie can play as a center back I don’t have that much faith in him for this position because his heading is just shit. I prefer to use him as a left fullback. As a fullback he did his job as a reserve, but Nissen is definitely our rising star. He is more attacking and took care for 7 assists, which is pleasing me. The seasons before our wingbacks were not as much involved in our field play as I wanted when we do have the ball, so we are on our way. Even more if you take in count Macgregor and Bryson did their job at the right hand side of the pitch. Together they accounted for 20(!) assists! No big deal at all to decide we are going ahead with all of them, so we only need one new center back to secure our squad depth.

In our tactic our central midfielders are crucial. If they perform good, our whole squad is playing better football automatically. The last few years Cochrane growth as a leader and a very solid all-round player who I can count on. He proves himself again and is staying for sure. Mimnaugh had a good season as well, but the new tactic is not fitting him very well. Since we are using our new defensive tactic he barely played a role of any importance. That worries me a bit, since he is with us he is one of the key players. As already said I used a couple of our youngsters. Two of them are midfielders, called David Smith and Craig McNeil. One thing is obvious: they are not there yet. I will try to loan them both next season. Wingers Kenny, Scullion and Woods did all right. Especially Scullion proved we really can’t without him. He missed the complete first half of the season but when he became fit again he immediately starts scoring goals. A lot. I just love him and of course he will be with us next season. Woods performed really good as Scullion’s replacement and Kenny improved this season in comparison with the season before. Darcy is not as good anymore when we signed him three years ago. He is just 29, but it seems he is starting to decline a bit. He is still on a 1-year deal, but if a team is coming in with a nice offer I probably will accept it. Spence is a sort of a new McAlister. We can play him nearly everywhere, so he is a useful sub. He will probably staying with us as well. All summarized our four starting midfielders are very decent (if Mimnaugh can reach his normal level of football) but if one of them is suspended or injured, the quality is dropping immediately. So, we are going to search for at least one central midfielder who can compete with Cochrane and Mimnaugh and possibly one more to create enough squad depth. Of course we always keep our eyes shut wide open for other gems for the wing-positions as well.

Our strikers did well again. Tompkins had a brilliant season and crowned himself as the league’s top goalscorer. Storey performed okay as a back-up striker and Saunders faced a little drop back which you see quite often with youngsters after a brilliant year. He only scored six goals in the league, which is way to less of course. But he is definitely not written off, he still looks promising and has become a Scottish international as well last year. But there is more! After so many years we finally had a talented gem from our academy. Only one, but it’s more than nothing. Chris Bain seems a very talented striker and, maybe even more important, he is a targetman (with also having the right attributes for it). A position which is very useful in our new defensive tactic. Sadly he didn’t score a goal within the playing time I gave him this far, but I don’t give up that fast! At this point I’m not sure yet if I send him on loan next season or not, it depends a bit how the pre-season period goes.

All summarized we don’t need to renew our squad very heavily, but signing a new central midfielder and a proper centre back, together with our new tactic could be the key to perform much better next season. Although we can’t renew our complete squad as well. Despite the clubs financial situation is healthy, there isn’t really much money to go completely wild. Well, that’s all it for now. We definitely have some work to do at the transfer market, but fulfilling our wishes should be realistic. After last season I don’t think many of our players are wanted by bigger clubs, so if we can strengthen the squad and the rest of it will stay than I will be fully prepared to go for a successful last season with Hearts (quite sure about that) with hopefully winning a prize or at least battling for it!

Nice update. I think you are beginning to really understand things at Hearts and I think next season could be the season you push forward as a club. Tompkins is really becoming a fine player and if you can invest in the areas you need to in the right way, there's no stopping you from pushing Celtic and Rangers all the way.

#070 - Almost ready to kick somebody’s ass

02/08/2030 -- Tomorrow the new season is finally starting. We are facing Raith Rovers, who are new in our league after they gained promotion last season. Although the squad is not complete yet I think we are ready for it. We had a solid run of pre-season matches without losing and the players are quite familiar with both of our tactics now. After Raith we are playing against Celtic and Hamilton, two of the better teams in the league which will make clear immediately if this season will be promising or not.

As said last time we were in a search for a new center back and a new central midfielder. We didn’t find a new center back yet (although some negotiations are underway currently) but we signed two new central midfielders. The first one is 21-year old James Caldwell. Not a family member of Callum Caldwell who we sold half a year ago, but he is just as promising. He was a free agent after Hibernian didn’t want him anymore (or he didn’t want to extend his contract, that was not brightly clear to me). He is a very solid all-round midfielder (just as Cochrane is) with having the capabilities for playing a bit more defensively in comparison with Mimnaugh. That will be especially very useful if we are plying our defensive tactic in which Mimnaugh didn’t seemed very comfortable last season. We also signed Alan Lawrie on a free. A very creative player who can play as a central or attacking midfielder, but also as a right midfielder for which he can compete with Lloyd Kenny because youngster McNeil isn’t good enough yet as we have seen at the end of last season. Actually, we have sold him. He was on a 1-year deal yet and to be honest I didn’t really see it in him. He is okay, but nothing more than that. Aberdeen came in with a very solid offer of around £1,400,000 (and a 50% sell on fee as well) which at the end I accepted. For the first time one of our players joined Aberdeen instead of somebody walked the reversed way!

Furthermore I signed a young striker. I offered him a contract already before Bain was joining us from our academy. I prefer to use Bain, so I decided to send Michael Turner on loan immediately. He will join Queen of the South for the rest of the season, as well as David Smith is doing, one of our other talented players who is not there yet. I didn’t show you Bain before, but now I do. I think he will be in our squad rather than sending him on loan. I will try to give him as much playtime as I possibly can because he looks really promising. He is tall (which is always a benefit to me no matter which position somebody is playing), both technically and having a good first touch (which is a huge benefit to use in our defensive tactic) and physically and mentally decent already. We shall see how he will develop himself. Our scouts do believe he has a great future in front of him, for what it’s worth like…

So, our season is starting to begin now, but we definitely need one more player. Because we didn’t spend money this far we have some money in the bank left for our last target: a solid center back who can compete with Strang and McIlroy. As already said we are very busy for finding someone and did made some offers, but until now nothing has become serious yet. Hiring somebody is not likely this season, most of the guys who are available are on a huge wage which we can’t pay. So for the first time since I’m here (and for the first time ever in my career as well as far I know of) it looks like we are not hiring a player. But, the transfer window is still open for a month, so everything can be different by then!

Note: I hope you are right Scott! I really do. Everything looks promising so far and for some reason I have some very good expectations for the upcoming season.I think it's definitely time for winning some silverwork again, the period of drought is during for a while right now. Coming up next: Is our start as promising as I'm hoping for or not?
Fingers crossed for you. The latest set of signings look to be decent players.

#071 - Promising start

18/10/2030 -- Okay, everything is going well so far! Quite unlikely given the results over the past few years, but now we finally can look forward. Although it doesn’t mean anything at this point in the season, we are first in the league! Which is a big reward to everybody who is working his ass off to make some progress with this fantastic club. But first I will talk about the last transfers we did before the window closed.

As I said last time I was still in a search for a decent central defender. At the end there was not much choice, but I’ll take it. We signed Englishman Mattie Pollock from Championship side Nottingham Forest for £2,100,000. Mentally he is very good, his key attributes for defending are decent and physically he is okay, but maybe a little bit slow. He probably isn’t good enough to compete with Strang or McIlroy, but as a back-up player he will be very useful and seems better than Williams already. He completes our 23-men squad for this season, but I signed another player. Ryan Ferguson is coming over from Ayr United. Also Rangers and Celtic wanted him, but at the end he chose for us. Maybe because we offered him a higher loan than he wanted, that was the only possibility for me to trump the bigger clubs I guess. He is just 18 years old and a very talented left wingback. I send him on loan for the rest of the season, but I think we will definitely hear more from him in the nearby future.

After a solid pre-season period we started with a game against Raith Rovers. An easy one, although I was a bit angry about the fact we screwed a solid 5-0 lead after two simple headers and so avoiding a clean sheet. The next two games were a bit dull. If we want to battle for the league title we have to make sure we are winning a couple of matches against the better teams in the league, especially at home. But against Hamilton and Celtic we failed. Although a draw isn’t bad I was hoping for something more, but maybe it isn’t realistic currently. The two best paid players from Celtic are earning more than all my players together and with Hamilton having a Russian board since a couple of years, they are spending money like the Wolf of fucking Wall Street.

There after we qualified ourselves for the European Conference League group stage after a great 8-1 on aggregate against Maribor, but in between we screwed a 2-0 lead at Falkirk after some terrible defensive mistakes. Although Rae isn’t in his best form either currently. Almost every goal we concede so far he didn’t look very confident to be honest… So yeah, collecting only six points after four league matches doesn’t seemed very promising. But there after it was slightly going better. We managed to win the next four league games, one of them being a sweet 1-0 victory over our rivals, and won the second match in the Europa Conference League group stage against Basel after a brilliant goal from Saunders in the dying seconds of the game. Saunders has finally started to score goals again, hopefully he will lengthen his good form as long as possible.

Our only blip was the third round League Cup match against Celtic. In the second round we already had a very tough opponent with Hamilton, but Celtic was a bridge too far. I was hoping they showed up with a lot of their reserve players but they didn’t. We granted them two goals after some terrible defense as well, so winning the game was a tough one this day. Although the draw wasn’t in our favor again… If we had won the game we had to play against Aberdeen in the next round. Facing Hamilton, Celtic and possibly Aberdeen. It couldn’t been any worse I guess. But, the tiny cubs in this competition are loving it of course, their chances for winning a prize are growing round by round.

We already had a couple of tough matches so far this season, so the upcoming month we have to play more games against the smaller teams in the league and both the cup competitions as well. Hopefully we can lengthen our good form as long as possible. I want to have a good season so much! I’m not expecting to win some silverwork, but at least at the end of the season I want to be in a position for saying that we had a battle for it. In the meantime I’m looking at the job market quite often currently to see if there appears a new challenge for me, but so far most of the Premier League clubs do alright (although a Championship side with some money in the bank and proper facilities will also be an option for me). However, I probably will complete this season at Hearts anyway. I’m not a huge fan for joining a new team somewhere halfway the season to be honest, but of course it’s not completely in my own hands.
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
2 yearsEdited
Hopefully this good form can be sustained and the lead will naturally be extended over Celtic unless they revert back to their former selves and never lose...

Pollock is a great signing by the way!

#072 - Two possibilities left

08/01/2031 -- After our promising start we are still battling in the league, which is definitely a good thing, but it doesn’t seem very hopeful at this point I think. The main reason we are battling has more to do with the fact that both Celtic and Rangers are lacking a solid run of form so far, rather than we are doing things very well. But, as long as it goes like this I’m really not in the position to complain, but I’m not very sure it will continuing like this… After we didn’t lost in the league till playing round eight, in the ninth one it was going wrong immediately. Mid-table club Queen of the South managed to beat us with 2-1. We played not bad, but as almost every time we weren’t able to promote chances into more goals, which Queen of the South did with their few chances. But is was just a little blip, afterwards we handled to win 5 matches in a row with scoring a lot of goals, although I have to say all these victories were against smaller teams. But, you need to win those ones as well!

The next match we had to play was against Anderlecht, the fifth group stage match in the European Conference League. If we win we are reaching into the next round, but we lost the first game against them already and today their striker punished us with every counter they’ve got. Nothing lost so far. If we play a draw against Basel away we are qualified for the knock-out round yet. But it was not our day again… Their right fullback scored two absolute missiles from outside the box and that was just too much for us. Tompkins gave us a little glimmer of hope with the 2-1, but soon afterwards they scored the 3-1 after a shot which seemed easy to save, but I’m doubting about Rae more and more to be honest. But yeah, there is no way back anymore, we have to play him until the end of the season. The lost against Basel means we are done in Europe for this year. We were close, but at the end it was not enough again in this very difficult group… I can rest in it.

After the Basel game we lost another match. Again with only one goal difference and again after they scored a late winner (after Rae showed his floppy hands again). The bad luck we had the last two seasons seems to be slightly coming in again… Luckily we could straighten our backs with three winning games in a row, one of them being a solid 1-0 victory over our rivals. A very crucial match, which keeps us afloat in de league. But that result means literally nothing if we are screwing points against a bottom league team in the following match. In this case Partick Thistle. We outplayed them ninety minutes long, but a crazy goal from them which was not even a shot on target, felt between the woodwork… It was some kind of a crossing from the left side of the pitch at more than 40 yards away from the goal. What was believed to be an easy save for Rae suddenly rolls over the line, after there striker came very close to Rae which obvious influenced him and he missed the ball completely. But even then, what kind of keeper is not jumping ahead into this kind of situations? As already said: I spend £5,500,000 for this dude, but he is doing just nothing for us (yeah, he saved a penalty when it doesn’t matter anymore, or is showing his reflexes five yards away of him as we already 3-0 behind. What I will say is this: he is never crucial. Which a good keeper at least should be in around five matches per season…). This loss harmed us heavily, because if we had won this game we could take the lead in the league after the first half of the season and so fully enjoying our winter break. It’s just not meant to be apparently…

Because of our good results in the league the board came in very early this season to extend my expiring contract. Suddenly it seems they don’t want to lose me as their manager. How different was it only a couple of years ago? But I made the final decision this will be my last season at Hearts (and pretty sure my last one in Scotland as well). The Partick game did me realize that the combination Hearts/Henderson isn’t born for luck in either way. They need a fresh start and me as well. At the moment I’m still looking very often at the job market, but so far there is not much that really attracts my attention. So it could be possible that I’m without a club for some time after this season ends. But maybe that is a good thing; after twelve ongoing years for being a manager I definitely need some rest for a couple of months! Well, we shall see how things sort out, firstly I will try to put out the maximum of this season with the club. Meaning ending at a proper position in the league or finding our route all the way to the final of the Scottish Cup!
Very frustrating. You're still in with a good chance of capturing the title but it's imperative that results remain consistent and unfortunately poor goalkeeping seems to be your downfall a lot. I look forward to seeing how the remainder of the season goes and what happens in the summer - but for now, let's hope for a good, consistent run of form.

#073 - I think it’s done

22/02/2031 -- Dear lord. Why always Celtic. Why? What have I done wrong in my life? It’s always Celtic we have to battle with in the Cup tournaments. No, not in the final, but always a couple of rounds before. And most of the time it is an away game as well… It’s. Just. Un-be-lie-va-ble. Never ever we do have any luck with our draws for the Cup tournaments, no matter which one. Okay, I could life with that fact. It’s very hard to accept, but I try. At the end it’s not in my hands. But the thing I can’t accept is the game isn’t allowing me to realize a big surprise sometimes. Or at least giving me the idea of it. Just once. But no, of all these twelve years I’m managing in this country I can count the surprises we realized on only two fingers, but I haven’t enough fingers left on both hands (and possible my toes as well) to count all matches we lost against smaller teams in this kind of circumstances… I really don’t know what to do anymore. Sure, they have the better players, we tried all kind of stuff tactics wise and we even promised their opponents in the round before a Rolex if they are harming a couple of their key players, but it just doesn’t sort out anything. I’m just doomed I guess. Or I’m a really bad manager actually…

And because of we lost the game before as well against them (Celtic) in the league, our team morale suddenly drops a bit (which is completely understandable), but affected our results in the next two games against bottom league teams Raith Rovers and Dunfermline as well. In both games we were much much better, but of course one of their players scored an absolute missile from distance being his first goal of the season (as usual), us hitting the woodwork three times and missing two sitters, and on top of that the Raith Rovers goalkeeper experienced the day of his life with being the man of the match. Probably his only 7+ score of the whole season. Of course he did. It’s always against us remember. I never ever saw my goalkeeper, who is obvious better, making saves like he did in this particular match and rewarding our team with a result… Sometimes I think it doesn’t really matter who is standing under that crossbar, honestly. Even a 60 year old Fabien Barthez can do the job…

All summarized I think we could say the end is near. As already said in the last update we were in a battle in the league because Celtic and Rangers are not achieving as good as they are supposed to be, but now they are gradually taking distance from everybody else. We are not performing better or worse than the seasons before, it just looked a little bit better because of those two from Glasgow. So it seems like the career of Luke Henderson is slightly fading away in the darkness of an Edinburgh night. There is not much to play for anymore this season. Ending third is nice, but it doesn’t mean anything. It only does if Celtic or Rangers is winning the Scotch Cup as well, otherwise a team underneath us is qualified for the Europe League. Which is probably going to happen if you take in count our portion of luck…

For what’s it worth like at this point, with me leaving Hearts anyway. The winter transfer window has closed already, but there is definitely something huge to tell. Lee Saunders has left the club. Just at the moment we had to play the important matches against Celtic in the league and the Cup… But I was counting on it since last summer already. As said before his contract included a minimum transfer fee of around £21,500,000. I tried to upgrade his contract a couple of months ago with removing this clause, but he didn’t accept it (which I can’t argue obvious). So it was just sit and wait until one of the big European clubs was coming in with a bag of money. And finally it was there three weeks ago. Manchester City brought the money with them and offered Saunders an insane contract. Personally I think this isn’t the right step for him. It’s a huge step forward immediately and I think he needs a step in between. Some kind of a proper mid-table Premiership side or such. But I don’t give a fuck to be honest. It’s his choice. For a second I thought we are not going to replace him, but at that moment we had to play for the Cup yet and were competing heavily with Celtic and Rangers in the league as well. So I really need a proper back-up striker. We found a youngster from Manchester United who seems really good and not necessarily weaker than Saunders. So we’d go for it and are loaning in this Newby till the end of the season. His name is actually Newby, ha-ha!

Oh, and by the way: the youth intake is going to be shit again. Only yellow rules in the December announcement, not even a single green line... Problems for the next manager to deal with, but I just had to say.

So, I suppose we are suddenly a very rich club now! We can’t spend a lot of money for a new player obvious, so I decide to invest a lot of it into the clubs facilities. Next summer both the training facilities and youth academy are getting upgraded and the board agreed with me to extend the stadium as well! One of the four corners will be developed, which means the capacity will be increased with around 5,000 spectators to a total of almost 25,000, being the third biggest football stadium in the country. A great improvement I would say. At least nobody of you can’t say I’m letting this club behind in big troubles. The club is healthy and financially sustainable for the long term. They have a very bright future in front of them, hopefully the next manager don’t fuck it up… Although that is basically happening all the time in FM, isn’t it? We have twelve more matches to play till the end of the season. Most likely I will come back to you when the season is already over. Or…! Or something magical has happened, with us battling for the league title again. Then I will return to you close in front of the end. But, don’t count on it too hard, I’m definitely not doing it!
An unfortunate drop off after an incredible start to the season, but still much improved over recent years. The sale of Saunders is a shame but it will allow for a large amount of money to be pumped into the club. With facilities being upgraded, hopefully those Youth Intakes can finally come good!

#074 - Thank you Luke!

24/05/2031 -- Shaking hands, say something nice to all of the staff members and my players and closing the door behind me. It’s official now, six years Hearts is all over. The board asked me three times more in the last two months to extend my contract, but I did made my decision already and kept behind it. It was a nice period for sure, with winning silverwork in the second year, but all summarized I have to be honest: I was hoping for a little bit more. The coin just didn’t flipped in the right direction on a few crucial moments. But, a new future lies ahead of me, and that will be very interesting I hope! In about a couple of updates I will summarize the six years at Hearts and I will do a short view how Spartans achieved over the last years as well. First I will take you with me to the end of the season, although that will be a bit shorter than normal because I don’t really care whether which players will stay at Hearts next year or not. It’s something for the new manager to deal with.

Our final run of the season was not that bad. We draw four matches and handled to win eight out of the last twelve. Amongst them a very solid 2-0 victory against Rangers away and a 3-1 win over Aberdeen. But as expected it didn’t brought us any further. At the end we finished on a solid third place, which was the highest possible outcome obvious. Luckily Celtic managed to win the Scotch Cup Final against Championship Side Ayr United, so Hearts is playing in the Europe League next season instead of the Europe Conference League. Spoken about Ayr. How in the world is it possible that a tiny side like them can reach into the final? Simple, until the semi final they didn’t played against a Premier League side, and in that semi-final they faced Saint-Mirren. Which they won after a replay. A marvelous achievement of course, but I could only ask myself: why wasn’t I so lucky just one time with a set of draws like that…

I’m not going through the performances of the squad line by line, I’m just highlighting some players. Three of the guys are going to leave Hearts. All of this guys are running out of their contract and all of them did find a new club already. Good old Ro-Shaun Williams didn’t play much last season because Strang and McIlroy overgrown him and now he is leaving. Ronan Darcy never convinced me completely and now he is thirty already I don’t think he has much more to add to this squad. Finally Donald Macgregor is leaving. To be honest, I just forgot his contract was ending… By the time another club wanted him it was too late already because we couldn’t compete with them in terms of wage. He did a good job, especially over the last two years when he was more involved in our attacking way of play.

As far I’m know of the rest of the squad will stay. I think the new appointed manager can do a good job again next season with two or three decent new players. Because the clubs financial situation is really good currently after the Saunders selling last winter he definitely should. As you probably can see the average ratings of the players are not as great as last season. Cochrane and Mimnaugh did their job, but that was pretty much it. Scullion should be on the same level as those two, but he rolled from one injury to another with playing a couple of matches in between. He never could make a solid run, but if he kept fit he can make a difference for sure. He showed it before.

The few talents are not really convincing so far. Chris Bain is still waiting for his first league goal after he played fifteen matches already and Lloyd Kenny seems to holding stand in his development. I think he isn’t going to be much better than he currently is. Nissen and McIlroy are still on their way, next season will be key for them if they can do a step forward or not. Tony Bryson was a bit of a gamble a few seasons ago but he isn’t going to make it either. He is a decent back-up player nothing more nothing less.

My last words
I had a really good time at this club, but I think I can conclude now I’ve stayed here just a little while to long. If I knew we couldn’t really battle for prices I probably left the club one or two seasons earlier before. But hey, I don’t have a sphere of glass sadly… At least the club is much more further ahead now since I joined Hearts six years ago. Oh dear, it was such a mess… I really hope the new manager can keep them on course and if so there will be a moment they can break through the Glasgow hegemony for sure. Okay, what are we doing now!? I was hoping that I signed a contract already with another club, but that isn’t the case currently. There are not much interesting clubs available disappointingly. But, that can change every day from now on, so I definitely keep in touch with you!

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