Robbie Neilson is doing Hearts proud and I wish the boo boys would get off his back – Ryan Stevenson

Hearts 5 Hibs 1. There’s an important reason to mention an unforgettable Scottish Cup Final win back in 2012.

Obviously any excuse to give this scoreline another outing shouldn’t be passed up but it’s also to highlight a path to Hampden people tend to forget.

Other scorelines from that run, Hearts 1 Auchinleck Talbot 0 and Hearts 2 St Mirren 0 after a replay that included a 30-yard trundler from Jamie Hamill I still can’t believe found the back of the net.

Nobody talks about these struggles, it’s all about the glory and it’s why Saturday’s penalty shootout win over Livingston was box ticked and job done.

Getting into the next round was all that mattered. It’s a cliche but it’s also true. Hearts have had a tough schedule recently with a few disappointing results so I was glad to hear Robbie Neilson saying he was giving his players some well-earned rest after eight games in 26 days.

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I’d also wish some Jambos would get off his back. Neilson was expected to lead Hearts to promotion last season by winning the Championship. He did that but for some reason it did n’t put much credit in his bank from him.

It wasn’t always great to watch, there were no fans, the games were being played through a pandemic and they did what they needed to do.

Last season they were expected to win every league game. When they won it was no biggie, par for the course.

When they lose, it’s an absolute catastrophe, just look at their defeat at Brora last season in the cup, listening to some fans it was like the end of days.

That criticism has never really gone away from some quarters and it’s going to take winning a cup for certain fans to be converted into the Neilson camp. I hate to say this but even finishing third this season won’t be enough for some people.

That would be a stunning achievement for Neilson but he’d still start next season under pressure if there was a shaky start. It’s just the way it is with some sections of the support.

If he was to put the Scottish Cup on the table even the biggest cynics would have to eat their words. What Hearts need is a cup run and a good cup run at that.

I’ve never believed in the logic of clubs that chop and change managers all the time. Time after time you see the clubs who are patient and stand by their manager through dire spells usually reap the benefit of things being turned around.

Hearts as a club were being dragged in 14 different directions not so long ago. The fans were going one way, the owners another and there was a continual change in manager.

Even when Craig Levein was director of football it looked like a mess with confusion over who was making decisions and doubts about everyone pulling the one way.

Not now. Building blocks have been put in place. The club is thriving just now so even the sniff of anyone suggesting Neilson’s job is at risk would be absolute nonsense.

Hearts have had an unbelievable season, sitting comfortably in third with a very good chance of European football next season.

But the fans demand a cup run. That’s what big clubs must do. I felt that expectation when I was at the club. All that’s missing under Neilson is a big day out, a final and the chance to lift some silverware.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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