Freedom Of Expression

By Ed_ScottishFitba
Last updated : 07 April 2008

With relegation confirmed for Gretna, the teams which were in the drop zone can relax and play football for the rest of the season. No 'must win' pressure allowed Kilmarnock to dominate Saturday's game with Hearts, and they could count themselves unlucky to end the game with only a single point to show for their efforts. The loss of key players to both injury and other clubs saw the Rugby Park side drop to the wrong end of the table after suffering a string of poor results, but Jim Jefferies' men have benefited from the plight of crisis club Gretna in the last few weeks. The relief that the possibility of relegation has been removed has been evident as Kilmarnock's Danny Invincibile explained: "There is a bit more freedom now. When you're battling down at the bottom everyone knows when it comes to relegation it's a bit of a dog-fight - you just have to scrap for the points. People are frightened to be creative in case they lose a silly ball in the middle of the park and lose 1-0, and it could be really costly for the club. Our players are playing with freedom and a smile on their face now, especially the creative players, and it's more enjoyable out on the park."

Kilmarnock lost Colin Nish to Hibs in the January transfer window after losing both Steven Naismith and Kris Boyd to Rangers which gave Invincibile the chance to show what he could do in the more advanced role he has stepped into. He said: "
It's unfortunate that a lot of our top players are going elsewhere, and things have to be changed around. But it's been enjoyable - it's been fun. Maybe I need a little more sharpness, and the boys have to get used to me playing up there - but I'm sure it will come good. I think the manager is going to have to bring another striker in, a natural goalscorer, but I'm enjoying the more advanced role - so if they are happy with that, I'm more than happy." Hearts needed all three points to cling onto any hope of finishing in the top half of the league before the split - but the only player to earn pass marks was their goalkeeper who played a huge part in ensuring the game ended all square. Invincibile added: "Their goalkeeper (Anthony Basso) has had an absolute blinder and has pulled off some great saves from point-blank range. That kept them in it in the first half. If we had got a goal maybe a bit of momentum would have taken us further - but we couldn't get that first one."

After failing to maintain the record of reaching the top six since the introduction of the SPL spilt, Hearts caretaker manager Stephen Frail kept his players in the Rugby Park dressing room for an hour after the final whistle. Since being handed sole responsibility for team affairs back in January Frail has overseen a remarkable turnaround in fortunes and was disappointed to see his side fall at the final hurdle. But Frail insisted wielding the axe this summer is not the answer. He said: "
We don't need so much a clear-out but we maybe need to look to bring in players. That same group of players have dragged themselves from second bottom, with all the turmoil and negativity that surrounds the club, and since January their form has been the third best in the country. It would harsh to really criticise. Since I've been in charge, the players have been terrific."

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