#077 - Hearts, just keep faith
Whilst I’m still busy for finding a new club to manage, it’s the perfect time to do a throwback into the past. A year-by-year summarize for my performances at Hearts
and at the end a small update how Spartans
achieved throughout the last six years as well. Hopefully you are enjoying it again, I did it before when I was leaving Spartans
at some point (update #44).
1st year, Hearts finished 7th in the Premiership
The only thing I can remember myself very bright is the complete mess I found here. This club was totally ruined. No finances, a lack of good facilities, and because of work permit issues not even a full first team which is ready for the upcoming season. First I had to sweep. A lot. But, at the same time the board was expecting results. Not the best combination as you probably be aware of. Last season they finished eight, anything better will keep me in the saddle I thought. It was a very though season. I sold everyone who wasn’t granted a work permit, which was good for sustaining our finances, but definitely not in terms of our squad depth.
Because of all the money we earned I was in the position to do some transfers, and that was my escape. I didn’t realised it myself at the end of this first season yet, but now I do. Even more. It was this year we bought Reegan Mimnaugh
, Joe Tompkins
and Daniel Scullion
. You know them for sure. Because they were still at Hearts when I left the club. I will show Scullion
definitely further onwards, but Mimnaugh
was our best newbie this first year. He scored only twice and took care for five assists, but his amount of key passes did me remind him of Max Ashmore
when at Spartans
. Throughout the years Mimnaugh
achieved better and better with the 27/28 season being his best, although he didn’t even play anything because of injuries. Last year was quite bad. New appointed manager Paul Hartley
didn’t use him in his best role obvious, with taking care for only two assists. By the time I was taking this screenshots he even left the club as a free agent… Sadly though.
2nd year, Hearts finished 5th in the Premiership and won the League Cup
Now we do know more currently we could say this season was my best. Because we managed to win a price. In my second year already and for the first time since fifteen years for Hearts
(and the last one since then as well). But in the league it wasn’t much better compared with the year before. Although we are back within the best five, where we definitely belong I would say, it wasn’t very convincingly yet. I was still busy to refresh the squad with the board still expecting me to battle for the league title. At some point I was really really close for getting sacked. It was just one more loss away all the time. But that particular loss never came in, luckily. The board kept faith in me and at the end they lengthened my contract.
The player I want to highlight this time is Joe Tompkins
. After a difficult first year he played much better in his second. He scored 22 goals in all competitions, which wasn’t that bad. Although I wasn’t completely convinced about him still. But the years afterwards he scored a good amount of goals throughout the seasons, with the 29/30 season being his personal highlight with 27 league goals and crowning himself as the top goalscorer in the Scottish Premiership. Currently he is 28 years old and it seems he is staying at Hearts
for a little while longer given the fact he has lengthen his contract for the next three years. A good decision from the board I think.
3rd year, Hearts finished 2nd in the Premiership
We were so close. It was a brilliant year. I definitely didn’t expect we were already here because I was still busy to compose my own squad. There was some dead wood to get rid of yet. But this season everything fell into the right place. If we ever had the chance to split Celtic’s
hegemony then it was this year. An astonishing amount of 97 points, but it was just one to short. But at least it is proofed we are definitely on our way. If we can strengthen our squad a little bit more than we can endanger Celtic
for sure next season!
The main reason for our resurrection this year can possible be found in our new appointed goalkeeper. Since this year Zander Clark
joined us. A very experienced goalkeeper and finally somebody who can touch the crossbar without jumping. Although he didn’t save much points for us, the central defenders played far more comfortable knowing that there isn’t a tiny goalkeeper behind them who literally doesn’t save a single shot. Clark
stayed with us the next three years as well, but after he picked up a serious injury he never reached his old level anymore. In his last year he didn’t even play a single match anymore. But, I respect Clark
. He was exactly what we need that period. Currently he is enjoying his retirement, although rumours are widely spread he is busy for studying to become a football manager as well.
4th year, Hearts finished 3th in the Premiership
We had to do a little step back. After our brilliant season before we couldn’t invest more money into the squad to upgrade our level of football. We only could afford ourselves some cheap players to add some extra squad depth. With Rangers
splashing millions of cash every transfer window we realised ourselves we are still years behind of them. That was quite obvious at the end of the season, with us finishing third, behind Celtic
. Although the gap isn’t as big as it should be if you compare each other’s wage budget. I could live with the fact they are better, but it annoyed me a bit we couldn’t battle in the cup tournaments either. Mainly because of a tough draw every time we never had the chance to pick up some more silverwork in one of the cup tournaments.
At the end it was a very average season. Nothing huge happened, no big transfers or such. The perfect moment to show you my most loved player over the years at Hearts
. Daniel Scullion
. We picked him up from Aberdeen
even before I played my first official match with Hearts. After a somewhat doubtful first season he slightly improved his level of football over the years and at some point he became one of my key players. Unfortunately he is a bit vulnerable for injuries, otherwise I think he was transferred to a bottom-half Premier league club for sure. He is definitely capable to play at that level of football. As a left midfielder he scored a lot of goals and took care for a nice amount of assists as well. Between the years 2027 and 2030 he was just amazing. Last year his form suddenly dropped. Because of Paul Hartley
again I guess… The club decided to sell him and Scullion joined MLS side Real Salt Lake
halfway the season. A nice adventure for sure, but I think he deserved better than that to be honest…
5th year, Spartans finished 4th in the Premiership
Again we performed more worse than the year before. Celtic
are slowly disappearing at the horizon and even Aberdeen
is in front of us again. Also Hamilton
are now above us in terms of finances. Nothing is lost yet, but we definitely had to do something to keep in touch with at least Aberdeen, Hamilton and our rivals. Generating money is the key. But without decent youth players coming through from our own youth academy regularly we can’t sell players to earn money. So our only possibility left is to trade players. It’s the only way to generate a lot of money.
Thanks to our solid club policy we had some big money to spend for transfers this year. We paid almost £11,000,000 in total for four new players, from which three of them could become a huge cash cow in the nearby future. Those four guys are still at Hearts
currently and I don’t want to talk about them because they are quite ‘fresh’. No, it’s Cochrane
time! Harry Cochrane
. He joined Hearts
in my second season at the club when he was declared superfluous at Celtic
. We took him over for a free and from the beginning he was a quality injection immediately. Together with Mimnaugh
they formed a really solid and reliable couple. In my fifth year at the club he crowned himself as the player with the most assists (13) and the most key passes (122) as well. He is almost 31 now and I think he needs to play for Hearts
until the end of his career and so becoming a club legend. He really deserved it and I don’t think he will just as successful at any other club over Europe. This is his home, this is were he belongs. By the way, I didn’t even know he was one of the clubs youth talents when Celtic
took him over in the 20/21 season until I made this screenshot. Shame on me… Knowing this now it’s even more without any doubt he needs to end his career at Hearts
6th year, Hearts finished 3th in the Premiership
My very last season at the club. Although we performed a little bit better than last season it was quite obvious it didn’t sort out in the right way. I was hoping for at least some battling for any of the prizes but the fact is we were not even close. Very disappointingly to be honest. There are many reasons for it of course, but beside of that, at some point we just performed not good enough to claim anything. So at the end Hearts
is a really good place for players to develop themselves, but definitely not a place to fill your cabinet with trophies… We are the Scottish equivalent of Arsenal
I guess. No, that’s not a compliment though.
One of those guys who developed himself as a potential star player is called Lee Saunders
. He was one of the very few big talents who came through from our youth academy when I was at the wheel at the club. At some point he was even mentioned as a wonderkid. And yes, Lee Saunders
is a very good player for sure. He scored goals from the beginning and never stopped. He had a somewhat difficult year two seasons ago, but he fought himself back really strong. After the first nineteen league games he has already scored fifteen goals and was on top of the Scottish top goalscorers list by the time. Big teems followed his achievements for a while, but in the winter one of them made a bid, finally. Manchester City
paid his clause of around £22,500,000 and he is now with them for one-and-a-half year. A big step ahead, and I definitely had some doubts about it, but he did pretty well this far, although his playtime needs to increase a bit. However, scoring ten league goals in twenty matches (with probably a couple of them as a substitute as well) in one-and-a-half year is actually pretty damn good for a 22-year old kid.
What about Spartans?
Not really a big surprise they didn’t reached into the play-offs over the last seven years, isn’t it? They were not even close, at least not as close I was at some point. I left the club after the 24/25 season and from then on they performed quite solid throughout the years, but never spectacular. It’s a good Championship side and that’s just it. Nothing more, nothing less. I think I did made the right decision for leaving the club. After me Neill Hastings
managed the club for two-and-a-half-years when he decided to left the club. After him Paul Thomson
stayed for only a year after he was sacked and now Lee Hodson
is managing Spartans
for already three years and still counting. So, definitely not a graveyard obvious, the board did a good job I think.
What about my two key players at the time? Well, star player Max Ashmore
left the club just one year after me and joined League Two side Saint Andrew
. A huge step backwards. I’m still not understanding why. He really proved he was a very decent player at Championship level, but the managers after me weren’t fully convinced I guess. But even then, from Championship all the way down into League Two! Max, you deserved better… We didn’t hear anything from him after he retired, probably he is working in some kind of a boring office to earn his money, because football didn’t make him rich obvious…
was the other key player at Spartans
. A striker who scored a lot. After I left the club he stayed with them for another five years, but in 2030 he retired from playing semi-professional football. In this five years he scored another 54 goals. Not as much as he did before, but not very bad either. After we did some research we found him in a city called Perth not far away from Edinburg, where he is currently working as a cop. Beside of Griffiths
I took a view at Spartans
current squad to see if there was somebody else I recognized. Only one! Goalkeeper Joe Young
is still there. I remember me him, he was a very decent goalkeeper to be honest. But, he doesn’t stay with Spartans
all the time. Already one year after I left the club he joined Queens Park
for a very nice transfer fee, who loaned them out in his fourth season to Forfar athletic
. After another year at Queens he returned to Spartans
. Everywhere he played he became the starting goalkeeper and so he played a lot of games throughout the years. He is 29 now, so probably he can go on for a few years more.
Note: A huge update, I hope the die-hard followers of this story are enyoing it! I'm enjoying it quite well to see how my former clubs or former players achieved througout the years. Hmmm, I don't think so Scott! I will tell you more about it in the next update, there is definitely something going on!