Hearts transfer window analysis: It's not quite over yet - but Jambos should be really satisfied
Monday, October 5 was one of the quietest Hearts transfer deadline days for some time. While not bringing the chaotic entertainment that fans reluctantly feast on, it was evidence that the Jambos have done things the right way this time around.
Much like their last dalliance with the Championship in 2014/15, Hearts got the crux of their squad in early. The one constant to this is manager Robbie Neilson, who is in charge this season like he was in the aforementioned campaign and prefers getting his business done early.
Bluntly, this Hearts squad is more than well equipped to seal an emphatic return to the Premiership. They have at least two players for each position, which is more than some clubs currently scrapping away in the top flight. Neilson has left nothing to chance.
The arrival of Craig Gordon sorts out a previously problematic goalkeeping position. Romanian centre-half Mihai Popescu is a strong addition to the defence. Midfield options have been bolstered by last week’s arrival of ex-Rangers midfielder Andy Halliday. On the flanks, where Hearts were found sorely wanting last season, Jordan Roberts and Elliott Frear will offer the pace and delivery required to supply Liam Boyce with goals, while the lively Josh Ginnelly is another option out wide. Ammo for the forwards will not be lacking.
All of these deals were done at least a couple of days before the window closing to ensure no fumbling in the dark late on and to let the squad bed in. It’s not just a promotion charge Hearts are after, but a crack at Hibs in the Scottish Cup semi-finals at the end of the month. Stakes are high.
Ideally, Neilson will bring one more player in before he is truly satisfied. While the Hearts boss has two viable left-back options in Ben Garuccio and Aidy White, he wants to bring Scotland internationalist Stephen Kingsley in. The 26-year-old is a free agent and currently training with his formative club Falkirk after leaving Hull City in the summer. Neilson is a huge admirer of Kingsley, but will have to balance the books and get one more player off the wage bill in order to get his wish. While Kingsley remains unattached, time is on Neilson’s side.
Hearts did a good job of trimming their bloated wage bill this summer by offloading Conor Washington, Uche Ikpeazu, Sean Clare, Olly Bozanic, Steven McLean, Bobby Burns and Callumn Morrison, while young winger Anthony McDonald left for Granada. Other kids may go out on loan – that particular window open until the end of the month.
In spite of the departures, Hearts’ squad is significantly bigger than their Championship rivals. Kingsley would enhance it further and perhaps the only area of marginal concern comes in the No.9 role, with Liam Boyce the only recognised out-and-out striker. Craig Wighton looks to be his main competition – Steven Naismith and Roberts can also play there – and there are whispers that Neilson may look for one further forward, although the same rule applies as Kingsley: money needs to be found.
Even if there are no further additions, Hearts can be satisfied with their work. It is a vast improvement on previous windows. It is all there for the club to hit the ground running, starting tonight against Inverness.