Why Hearts Are Beating Rangers On And Off The Pitch!


A lot of us predicted good things from the Scottish Championship this season. Having three big heavyweights like Hearts, Hibs and Rangers in the league meant that we would see a competitive league, glowing in the exposure of more TV coverage.

As we now step into October, the league is starting to take shape. One of the bigger sides currently lies in top spot, a full six points ahead of their closest rivals.

But that team isn’t the bookies favourites and Scottish League One winners Rangers, who have the second biggest wage bill in the whole of Scottish football. Nope, the current league leaders are Hearts, who finished bottom of the heap in the Scottish Premiership back in May.

Now usually when a team gets relegated, they struggle to find their feet straight away. Just look at Hibs, currently in fifth place and ten points behind city rivals Hearts. It is a bit of a hangover from last seasons poor displays, with the relegated teams void of much inspiration and confidence.

Usually the promoted sides start well and get out the traps quickly as they build on the success of the previous campaign. And truth be told Rangers are in second place but are still six points behind the leaders, having lost to both Edinburgh clubs at Ibrox in the first few months. Their performances have once again looked stilted and one dimensional.

Both Rangers and Hearts haven’t had their financial troubles to seek in recent years. The Glasgow side went into complete meltdown and were inserted into Scotland’s bottom tier after going into liquidation. Hearts were placed into administration last term and only came out of it this preseason.

So why does it all seem rosy at Tynecastle and precarious in Govan?

Well in truth, Hearts as a club along with the fans came together and came up with the best solution. Ann Budge lead the takeover and began the rebuilding job, with the view of handing the club back to the fans when it was in a healthy position to do so. The highly regard business-woman came in and made it clear that the only way the club could get better was to have clear business and football strategies put in place.

That meant a cull of the squad; including the departures of well respected goalie Jamie MacDonald and experienced forward Ryan Stevenson. It was also decided that head coach Gary Locke (a man steeped in Hearts tradition) was deemed surplus to requirements. These decisions weren’t universally applauded by the Jambos fans, but importantly they weren’t lambasted either. The supporters trusted Budge. The new chairwoman was ruthless but that is needed when running a successful business.

The football strategy included a new management team. With former Scotland boss and Hearts legend Craig Levein being handed the role Director of Football and former Jambos defender Robbie Neilson becoming head coach.

The pair have worked hard bringing in a new squad and getting them to gel as a team and ready for the rigours of the Championship.

Even with all the changes, the clubs fans are still at its core. They’ve jumped on board with the new regime and supported them all the way. Everyone at Tynecastle has the club as their main focus and are all working together heading in the right direction.

On the park they have played seven matches; winning six and drawing once. They’ve also managed to score twenty-two goals and only conceded four. They have a goal difference of eighteen, that’s ten better than Rangers!

They play nice football and have a talented young squad with some experienced new recruits helping the younger lads.

Whilst, when you look across the M8, things have went differently at Ibrox.

The board and fans are in constant dispute. The Rangers faithful don’t trust the people running the club and are always quick to become vocal about their misgivings. That negative atmosphere surrounds the whole club.

After generating around £30m in a share issue in 2012, the company had yet another issue this season which brought in £4m. Yet the talk is that the board only have enough capital to run the business until late December. That uncertainly will also play on the minds of all those involved at Rangers from the players to the fans.

No one running the club seems to be a natural leader. The Easdale brothers seem to be to provocative to steer the ship and have the Gers supporters on board. Chief Executive Graham Wallace seems impotent when trying to repair the damage that has been caused in the past few years.

On the pitch things aren’t great.

Ally McCoist always seems to struggle with a Plan B, some say he struggles to find a Plan A. His tactics look old fashioned and don’t fit with the personnel that he has at his disposal.

The Rangers legend has always bought from the top flight of Scottish football. But many of these ‘bigger’ name players have failed to mix it in the lower league. They often seem toothless and lack creativity.

Although I am a big fan of McCoist the player, I question certain attributes he has or does’t have as a manager. But it seems he is there to stay, almost untouchable in fact. I’m not sure that certainty, works well in a competitive environment. Even if he could have an experienced director of football, that could help. He shoulders too much of the responsibility.

All in all, Hearts are outperforming Rangers both on and off the pitch due to Ann Budge’s key decision to implement her strong football and business strategies that have been embraced by the whole club.

An important part of any club has to be the fans. Simply Hearts seem to value the Jambos, yet the Rangers board are always at loggerheads with theirs!

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