How many times do we hear people who hate plastic pitches come out and tell us that they’re terrible things because just look at this latest knee injury that one has caused. Sure, someone across the city suffered from that and earlier this season and we never heard the end of it.
We never hear the same criticism when it happens on grass though. Christophe Berra didn’t like the long grass of Tynecastle. Now sadly we seem to have lost both Eboue Kouassi and Daniel Arzani to knee injuries after playing on the grass of Murrayfield and Dens Park respectively.
I don’t mind a good quality plastic pitch. I really don’t like a bad quality grass pitch. The problem isn’t the surface type, it’s the surface quality. To use knee injuries as some kind of proof that plastic pitches are bad is ridiculous, because when it comes to it you can get a knee injury anywhere from very little. Berra, Kouassi, Arzani, they were all unfortunate. It wasn’t the surface.
Then there’s the far more serious business of hypocrisy. The one that sees bodies like Show Racism the Red Card and Nil By Mouth rattle their sabres loudly in some circumstances and yet other times they say nothing at all.
Neil Lennon has put up with anti Irish and anti Catholic abuse since he arrived in Scotland in 2000. The only break he’s had from it was when he was down south again at the likes of Bolton. As soon as he came back up here, the abuse returned.
It’s Scotland’s shame. It’s the truth that many simply deny or pretend to ignore. Supposed protectors of victims of sectarian and racist abuse suddenly go quiet at the mention of it. Politicians barely say a word about it, and we all know how opportunistic that lot can be.
It’s not a football problem, it’s a Scottish problem. It’s long overdue being properly addressed and properly dealt with. I have no interest in whataboutery, I’m fully aware it’s not the only problem in this country. But it is a serious problem, and saying nonsense like “he brings it on himself” only tries to excuse bigots and racists from their shameful ways.
Hearts had an eventful week, didn’t they? Knocked out of the League Cup by ourselves, they then picked up a point against their city rivals. That point, as we were thumping Dundee with ridiculous ease, means they now sit four points ahead of us in the table.
So even if we win today they’ll still be top of the league. But that gap will be just a single point and we’ll have a game in hand over them too.
Hearts were struggling with injuries last week, and early in the game that was added to by Steven Naismith going off. He’s now out for a good few weeks and so don’t feature today.
Neither will the apparent sexual deviant Steven Maclean. In some bizarre attempt at a defence, Hearts Manager Craig Levein decoded go tell the world that Maclean grabbing Kouassi by the genitals is something he does a lot and actually enjoys. Very strange.
That act saw him get a two game ban, which means he don’t feature today either. Hearts squad is looking pretty thin then, but you can bet they’ll be fired up to try and do better than they did last week and maintain their place out front in the title race.
Yes, I’m calling it a title race. You need two things to be in that. Consistency against the rest of the league – just two draws and in defeat for Hearts shows they’ve done that – and being able to beat your title rivals. Well, we lost 1-0 at Tynecastle so they did that too.
Can they keep it up until May? The injuries certainly don’t help their cause but they’re doing well so far anyway. This will be another test for them today.
Meanwhile, we have been finding our form domestically in recent games and will hope to continue that. But our squad is getting stretched too. Ryan Christie has come in and done well, but we’re still losing players all too often to injury. Kouassi and Arzani join Ntcham, Griffiths, Brown and Bitton and that seems to be all of our holding midfielders in that list as well as half our strikers.
Edouard is starting to look pretty exhausted playing up front himself every game, don’t you think? I really wish we had another option there, especially as we have a crucial Europa League game coming in midweek.
But today is just as crucial. Consistency and beating your title rivals is the key as I said earlier. Well we’ve found consistency, now it’s time to beat our title rivals.
Krys (Twitter @krys1888)