BY ALAN TEMPLE in Dublin – Capital City Press
Hearts stalwart Morgaro Gomis insists he is not feeling the pressure of living up to the lofty demands of owner Ann Budge – and reckons the Jambos are ready to “surprise” their top-flight rivals.
Budge has made it clear that the minimum expectation for a club of Hearts’ stature should be a top six finish and even hinted that they should be eyeing the European places.
While most newly-promoted sides would baulk at those aims, confident Gomis believes the capital cub will be more than capable of holding their own among the big boys next term.
The 29-year-old: “I watched a few Premiership games last season and I think we’ll be fine. The likes of Dundee and Hamilton went up last season and did really well and I don’t see why we can’t do that.
“Everything is going to be different because all of the teams are full-time, but we have a good squad with good young players and I think we’ll have a good season.
“I think we will make an impact and I think people will be surprised.
“We don’t feel any pressure. You need to have objectives and if the manager and Ann are saying they want us to finish in the top six then that’s what we are going to aim for. I think we are capable of it.”
When it comes to excelling in the upper echelons of Scottish football, Gomis has been there, done it and got the ‘2010 Scottish Cup winners’ T-shirt.
He was an integral part of the Dundee United first-team squad for four-and-half years, working under current Jambos director of football Craig Levein and, latterly, Peter Houston.
An enjoyable period in Tayside saw him make almost 200 appearances for the club, register four consecutive top-half finishes, represent the Tangerines in Europe and lift the Scottish Cup.
And he reckons the current Hearts squad is comparable with his United sides.
The Senegal internationalist continued: “I was part of a Dundee United squad that did well in the league and the cups and I see something similar here.
“They gave youth a chance and I think Hearts is the same, we have some really good players coming through as well.”
Gomis, an experienced head in a youthful dressing room, is visibly enthused by the talent emerging at Tynecastle, represented by the likes of Sam Nicholson, Jamie Walker and Billy King.
However, he has been equally buoyed by the latest summer signings, which have seen the Jambos capture former Serie A defender Blazej Augustyn, towering Spaniard Jaunma and ex-Queen of the South forward Gavin Reilly.
Gomis added: “Blazej is a big guy and he seems to be a big character as well. He’s always laughing and that’s good.
“I think it’s really important when the new guys come in they start talking to the guys here and become a big part of things, that they are not all by themselves and that everyone gets on with them.
“It’s not just about football, it’s about their personalities as well. They’re good guys, we can see that.”