Genero’s Gers double the perfect way to Zee farewell
With Hibs finally securing a win against Falkirk at the nth time of asking, anything Rangers did at Tynecastle on Saturday was effectively null and void, despite the inexplicable smugness that seemed to be wafting from the two away sections of the Roseburn Stand for roughly 80 minutes. However, in keeping with the general hilarity that has surrounded the Ibrox club for the vast majority of this season, holding onto a two-goal lead and any remaining sliver of their dignity for ten extra minutes was still too much for them to cope with.
The fact that Hearts had to claw back a two-goal deficit in the first place was surprising given the run of play for most of the game. For the first time since securing the title way back when the nights were darker, the Hearts players looked up for the battle and were a constant threat on the counter attack. In fact, had Jamie Walker stuck away his one-on-one with Cammy Bell at 0–0, the rest of the game may have been a more comfortable affair for the champions. However, had that been the case, the closing stages would have lacked the satisfying feeling that comes with snatching even the emptiest of victories from them at the death.
Genero Zeefuik, the man-mountain at the centre of that late fight-back, has found himself lingering somewhat in the peripheries of the squad in recent weeks after a handful of ineffective performances. On that basis, many in the stadium would have groaned in despair at the sight of the Dutchman limbering up on the sidelines moments before replacing Soufian El Hassnaoui just after the hour mark. One Wheatfield-based connoisseur in particular questioned how much of a difference “that fat b*****d” could possibly make at this stage, as if romping to a title in record fashion was not enough for some to trust Robbie Neilson’s in-game judgement.
Aside from the questionable tactical nous of those in the stands, this also raises the issue of the over-inflated standards some Hearts supporters appear to have developed as a result of that aforementioned record title win. Having notched 12 goals in only 15 appearances since signing in January, Zeefuik has finished the season as the club’s joint-top scorer alongside Osman Sow, a player who (despite the injury problems that necessitated Zeefuik’s recruitment) made nine more appearances than his colleague. Unfortunately, the statistics seem of little importance to those who prefer the sight of a player running himself into the ground, even if that comes at the expense of intelligent positioning and an eye for goal.
While I wholeheartedly agree with those who say Zeefuik is not worth the six-figure price tag slapped on him by Groningen, the impact he has made in his short spell at Tynecastle has been invaluable. Coming into the squad at a time when there were more strikers on our injury list than on the team-sheet, he effectively lifted the burden from the shoulders of James Keatings’, whose purple patch over winter looked to be fading somewhat. Furthermore, he provided a more physical option that had been lacking up front in the earlier stages of the season, giving opposition defences something new to consider at a time when many teams looked to be sussing Hearts out.
Reports have emerged in the past couple of days that Zeefuik is eager to stay with Hearts beyond the summer and will plead with his parent club to make it possible. Unfortunately for the Dutchman, the new dawn of financial prudence at Tynecastle — coupled with Groningen’s desire to claw back some of the money they originally paid for him — means a permanent move to Edinburgh is unlikely. Should the final ten minutes of Saturday’s game turn out to be Zeefuik’s last in a maroon jersey, he will have departed on a high note with a league winner’s medal, cult hero status and the best wishes of those who acknowledge just how telling a contribution he made to the team’s success.
Originally published at maroonspecs.wordpress.com on May 5, 2015.