Blogs & Opinion


Andy Walker says the heat will be on in this Sunday's Edinburgh derby

Andy Walker - Andy Walker Posted 7th August 2013 view comments

The Edinburgh Derby is live on Sky Sports this Sunday with both sides desperate to grab all three points for very different reasons.

Hearts have had enormous problems since entering administration in the close season with debts of £25million owed to companies formerly owned by disgraced owner Vladimir Romanov. Consequently, the Tynecastle club were given a 15-point deduction for this season and relegation seems inevitable.

Under pressure: Pat Fenlon

Under pressure: Pat Fenlon

Experienced players have left the club and with a slim squad to call upon, manager Gary Locke has no option other than to play inexperienced youngsters following a registration embargo that denies him the opportunity to sign new players.

John Sutton chose to leave the club and sign for Motherwell but other experienced players such as Jamie Hamill, Ryan Stevenson and Jamie MacDonald have agreed to wage cuts.

Hibs' confidence is low and a defeat may well result in Fenlon's time in charge coming to an end.

Andy Walker
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

Scottish Premiership
Hearts v Hibernian
12pm, Sunday, Sky Sports 1

Given that all these players could've gone elsewhere for a similar salary it's no surprise to learn that their stance has brought huge admiration from the manager and loyal supporters.

With a strong sense of togetherness and people willing to fight for the cause, Hearts won't lack for team spirit on Sunday in the cauldron of Tynecastle.

Even without the 15-point penalty survival in the SPFL would be a tall order but this is a derby at home against their bitter rivals who are also struggling badly.

But make no mistake: Hearts will fancy their chances on Sunday, despite their troubles.

Humiliation

The contrast between Hearts and Hibs off the pitch in recent years has been extraordinary.

In recent years when Hearts were spending ridiculous sums of money on player wages and huge squads, Hibs were being run properly and had the added bonus of selling players like Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson, Steven Fletcher and Steven Whittaker for huge profit.

But now, under Pat Fenlon, you get the feeling the fans are unconvinced that he's the man to take them forward. Losing 5-1 to Hearts in the Scottish Cup final two seasons ago was the ultimate embarrassment and humiliation.

I watched on in disbelief two weeks ago as Hibs lost 7-0 at home to Malmo in a Europa League qualifier. As a direct result of that embarrassing defeat, it was a scared and fearful Hibs side that lost at home to Motherwell on the opening day of the season.

Football can be a brutal business and there's no doubt that Hibs fans would expect their team to go to Tynecastle and see their more experienced men run over the top of young Hearts players who have been fast-tracked into the team.

Fragile

When you consider Hearts and their fragile position, of course Hibs should be too strong for a weakened opponent - but their confidence is low and a defeat may well result in Fenlon's time in charge coming to an end.

New signings Rowan Vine and James Collins should be able to make all the difference but it's a great pity that Alex Harris looks likely to miss out through injury.

I'll certainly be interested to see the approach of the Hibs team.

They won in dramatic circumstances at Tynecastle in April when Ross Caldwell scored a delightful winner but, crucially, Hibs had Leigh Griffiths then; he scored a fabulous equaliser from a free-kick and time and time again last season, the Wolves striker was their saviour.

To ensure Fenlon regains the faith of the Hibs support, he'll have to come up with another match-winner to satisfy supporters that want to see a better product on the park.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Guillem Balague

Balague: Barca training tough

Guillem Balague says Barcelona’s stars will suffer gruelling double sessions during their week at Burton....

Ray Wilkins

Wilkins: Rooney for captain

Ray Wilkins says Wayne Rooney is the "standout candidate" for the England captaincy....

Jamie Carragher

Carra: Gerrard hard to replace

Jamie Carragher says there’s no natural replacement for Steven Gerrard in the England team....

Latest News RSS feeds

Live transfer updates

Hull sign Andrew Robertson and Harry Maguire, West Ham finalise Enner Valencia deal and Southampton close on signings.

Barkley signs new Everton deal

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley has signed a new four-year deal with the club.

Allegri: Vidal happy to stay

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is convinced Arturo Vidal will remain with the club for the forthcoming season.

Drogba's easy decision

Didier Drogba admits it took little thinking about when he was offered the chance to return to Chelsea.

Saints chairman: Duo staying

Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin will not be sold, according to Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger

Features

La Liga: A look at the best buys so far in Spain

La Liga: A look at the best buys so far in Spain

The top value signings of the summer might not necessarily involve the best players. Clearly, James Rodríguez and Luis Suárez are a cut above anyone recently recruited by Real Sociedad.

In part two of his Sky Sports Fantasy Football scout report, tipster Tim Clement looks at which young stars are set to shine this season

In part two of his Sky Sports Fantasy Football scout report, tipster Tim Clement looks at which young stars are set to shine this season

There’s nothing quite like spotting a young talent set to flourish and Sky Sports Fantasy Football managers will be especially desperate to discover the next young star set to shine.

Good Week/Bad Week: We take a look at the winners and losers from the last seven days

Good Week/Bad Week: We take a look at the winners and losers from the last seven days

So much can change in a week of sporting action and, sure enough, there have been plenty of highs and lows over the past seven days.