BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Blazej Augustyn is adamant Hearts are capable of winning the Scottish Premiership title after insisting they have nothing to fear from Celtic.
The Jambos have excelled on their return to the top-flight this season and find themselves in the midst of a six-match unbeaten run, which began with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Parkhead in September.
Albeit sitting at the summit of table, question marks remain over Ronny Deila’s stewardship after they crashed out of the Europa League this week in the aftermath of a home stalemate against Kilmarnock.
Six points separate Celtic from second-placed Hearts, however the message emanating from Tynecastle yesterday was clear from the confident Pole.
“I think we are good enough to win or stay close to Celtic,” said the 27-year-old. “We win against good teams and we play good football so we can [win the title].
“We are working hard and we know our team can compete with everyone in this league.
“It’s important not to be afraid against them, it’s only a game. All teams should go on the pitch with empty heads and play as best as they can against Celtic. We are definitely not afraid of them, we want to challenge them, we want to play football against them.
“We are second in the table so we should believe we can win something. All I have heard is how when Rangers were in the league, it was only the two of them who challenged for the title. Well, in life nothing is sure and, they can say Celtic always win the league, but it can be different. Hopefully we can change this.”
Augustyn’s claims are likely to be met by skepticism in some quarters, but the former Legia Warsaw, Bolton and Catania defender insists Hearts can take advantage of Celtic’s weaknesses.
“Celtic are not the same team they were two or three years ago, they had different players, they had better players,” he said bluntly. “They were winning games in the Champions League.
“Now they haven’t qualified for the Champions League and finished fourth in their Europa League group.
“They are still good in Scottish football. Of course, they have a good team for Scottish football but it doesn’t matter. They can lose and they can win, just like we can.
“We know we can challenge them and when they come to Tynecastle we will try and show them we can beat them as well. All the hard work we are doing every single week is to show we are good. I think the fans should believe in us.”
Indeed, that clash in Gorgie on December 27, which is sure to have some added spice given Augustyn’s comments, is already firmly circled in the calendar.
“We are working hard towards meeting them at Tynecastle on December 27.” he smiled. “I can remember the date easily because it’s Christmas time! But maybe it is also the time we can change some minds of the people in Scotland.”
However, Augustyn knows fixtures against the likes of Celtic and Aberdeen will be moot if Hearts cannot defeat sides towards the bottom of the Premiership such as Motherwell today.
The Jambos saw a four-match winning run halted last weekend when they drew 1-1 at home to Dundee – exactly the type of slip-up which often plagues team with lofty aspirations to challenge Celtic.
“We shouldn’t draw against Dundee but it happens,” Augustyn added. “At half-time I was almost sure we would go on to win, but you have to play 90 minutes like that to win the game, not just 45.
“When we got back in we were all disappointed because we knew we could have closed the gap further. We just have to keep working and we need to try and beat Motherwell now. Hopefully Celtic will drop some points.”