Since Kosta Papic returned for a second spell as Hearts of Oak head coach late last year, the team has enjoyed all sorts of wins — one garnished with goals, and others by narrower margins — but it has been almost a month since Phobians celebrated a win of any kind.
Hearts are currently on a miserable run, with their last victory coming in a 2-0 defeat of Techiman Eleven Wonders at the Accra Sports Stadium on January 17. Their next few games have brought losses to Medeama and ‘noisy’ neighbours Accra Great Olympics, and draws with Berekum Chelsea and Legon Cities.
That slump has seen Hearts drop to 10th place on the Ghana Premier League table after 13 matches, but the current situation is completely at variance with what had been expected when Papic’s appointment was followed by an instant improvement in fortunes.
In the immediate aftermath of Hearts’ most recent win, in fact, the Serbian trainer wasn’t nearly as pleased as the club’s supporters, expressing his malcontent in a post-match interview.
“I’ll never be impressed with [my players],” he quipped. “They are never going to satisfy me.”
Such remarks by Papic — and not the first of that nature — certainly raised the bar and the hopes of a fanbase that has watched its team underperform year after year for more than a decade now. Unfortunately, though, Papic hasn’t been able to keep up the good streak, much less trigger better performances with his tough words.
Hearts, if anything, have actually retrogressed: from losing just once in the 60-year-old’s first seven games in charge, the team has managed just two points from a possible 12 in the last three weeks, and the levels of inconsistency in results is simply staggering.
That four-game winless run puts Papic under a rather intense spotlight. The optimism of his early days has thinned, reducing Hearts to a side down in 10th and struggling to win games. For all the pressure Papic is under to end Hearts’ 11-year trophy drought, the more urgent task on his to-do list involves fixing the team’s current form.
Hearts fans are a demanding lot, and it’s only a matter of time before they start calling for the head coach’s head, should the tide not turn.
Emmanuel Ayamga — Ink & Kicks