Ranking all 45 strikers Hearts have signed this century - Part 2
We have been subjected to quite the revolving door of centre-forwards since 2000 – and it’s fair to say their success rate could have been better.
In total, we have brought in 45 out-and-out strikers in that time who in total have averaged a goal every 3.9 games. Some of them turned out to be good signings, some were great and some – well, lots – did not work out as planned.
Starting with said disappointments I've ranked each of them, and I'm pretty sure it’ll make us appreciate Liam Boyce more than ever.
The players rankings are naturally just an opinion piece based on my observations of their talent along with the value they brought to the club and if they met or exceeded fans expectations.
30. Gavin Reilly (33 appearances & 5 goals)
One of a number of projects signed under the Budge/levein era, it will be deemed by some that Reilly was not given adequate time to adjust to the step up from the Championship where he had just had his most successful scoring season.
The downward trajectory of his career since his departure in 2016 would possibly throw weight behind his detractors but it may be also be fair to say that the sale of Osman Sow in January of that year was horrible timing given that previous 6 matches had yielded 6 goals between the pairing and resulting in 3 wins and 3 draws for the club.
His season petered out from February afterwards and he was loaned out to Dunfermline to make way for the likes of Tony Watt & Conor Sammon.
29. John Sutton (60 appearances & 11 goals)
A strange signing and my criticism of John Sutton will ultimately hinder on whether I ever get the chance to ask Jim Jefferies if he was signed as a direct replacement for Kevin Kyle who had already been out injured for a number of months prior to the capture of Sutton from Motherwell in 2011.
Sutton always looked more effective as a classic old school penalty box poacher in a 4-3-3 system but we seemed intent on trying to have him isolated with his back to goal linking up with others which it is fair to was not his strongest suit.
Regardless of the intentions behind his signing, it is still important to point out that Sutton never looked like he belonged at the club and a poor League Cup Final performance will always stick in the throat of some fans.
28. Craig Wighton (37 appearances & 7 goals)
One of those players whose stock would always rise more when they were not on the park, Wighton would spend 2 injury and form ravaged seasons at the club before hitting a brief purple patch which culminated in some important strikes against Arbroath & Hibs.
In his defence, Wighton certainly looked far more effective playing in a front two but given our current managers preference for a 4-2-3-1 system, it was always a case that at best Wighton would only see out his contract before being moved on. Hopefully his confidence can continue to grow with Dunfermline and thanks for the Hampden strike.
27. Uche Ikpeazu (55 appearances & 10 goals)
A player who's form at various stages of his spell at Tynecastle could see him comfortably command a spot at either end of this ranking system.
You had the initial excitement which stemmed from his very productive opening quarter at the club prior to picking up an injury at Fir Park with his bustling style even getting rousing cheers from the stands when he came on for his debut and took out the Cowdenbeath keeper.
There were fleeting moments of that player upon his return (a double against Aberdeen and an important strike against Inverness at Hampden) but the player looked to suffer with a fragile mentality which was not helped with the overall malaise that the club was operating under. Will forever be a meme legend with his Bambi on ice routine in Perth.
26. Christian Nade (93 appearances & 10 goals)
A player whose stock with the fans has certainly risen post his exit from the club (helped by a knack of scoring a few against Hibs with Raith Rovers & Dumbarton).
Incorrectly labelled a massive flop from the get go by some, Nade enjoyed a productive first few months at the club scoring 5 goals in his first 13 matches and getting support from the likes of Velicka and Elliot up top under Stevie Frail who favoured a more attacking line up during his time in charge.
Although the clubs fortunes would turn under Csaba Lazlo, Nade was given the thankless task of leading line on his own and a struggle with form and fitness would plague the rest of his time at the club which culminated with a post match punch up with Ian Black at Parkhead.
25. Abiola Dauda (15 appearances & 5 goals)
Possessing good technique and a decent CV from Dutch football, Abiola Dauda was a player who, on paper, was well suited to filling the massive Osman Sow shaped hole when signed on loan deal days prior to a Scottish Cup showdown with Hibernian in 2016.
The striker fleetingly showed signs of this in a few appearances and did score the decisive goal in a 1-0 win at Pittodrie so his appearance so far down on this list may be a tad harsh but for me, he failed to be the same talisman that Sow had become in the previous 18 months. It also became clear quickly he was not suited to the battling nature of Scottish football. Trying Dauda was worth a shot, but this was a move that went down as a miss.
24. Conor Washington (22 appearances & 4 goals)
A baffling signing on paper that even the player himself acknowledged upon their departure. It was clear that Washington enjoyed exploiting space behind the defence which was evident during his better performances for the club in a cup win at Fir Park and the 3-1 victory at Easter Road.
A mixture of coming up against very deep backlines and a hamstring injury had a huge bearing on his impact at the club and it led to an inevitable departure when the club were demoted last summer.
23. Armand Gnanduillet (6 appearances & 3 goals)
Hard to place this recent signing so decided to place him slap bang in the middle so that I am not guilty or writing him off or having lofty expectations.
From his earlier showings, Gnanduillet has proven adept to running the channels and already has a couple of assists to his name. He will need to contribute goals wise as his at times casual pressing style will no doubt irk some sections of the support when the inevitable dry spell in front of goal occurs.
Promising signs so far but much will also depend on whether Robbie Neilson will want to continue with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
22. James Keatings (33 appearances & 11 goals)
Possibly not a popular figure to some given his defection across the city in 2015 but it should be remembered that these were the actions of someone who had been informed that their game time would be at a minimum with the club achieving their promotion target that summer.
Keatings biggest contribution came in the form of 6 goals in 7 matches during the winter period of that season at a time when our other forwards options were struggling for fitness.
The signing of Genero Zeefuik pushed Keatings out to the fringes of the matchday squads but there were some great moments to remember including that hat-trick at Starks Park, a great strike against QOTS at Tynecastle and the clincher during our away trip to Falkirk.
21. Steven MacLean (52 appearances & 9 goals)
This will not be a popular call, but I enjoyed watching Maclean during his time at the club. The only regret that being caught in the middle of politics between Csaba Lazlo & Vladimir Romanov meant we had to wait 8 further years to see him eventually don a Maroon jersey.
His experience would have been harnessed far more effectively if it had not been for the injuries to Naismith & Ikpeazu meaning a reliance on Maclean starting most weeks and although he did blemish his notebook with some silly behaviour during league cup semi-finals against the Old-Firm, he was one of a few who never seemed to shirk his responsibilities and managed to keep his head above water when many felt the weight and burden of performing in front of an expectant Gorgie crowd.
20. Dennis Wyness (79 appearances & 15 goals)
Possibly lacking in the big personality stakes or arrogance that would have seen him make more of his time at both Hearts & Aberdeen as ability wise he was more than capable of a better return of a goal every 5.3 games especially when you consider he had some great foils to bounce off of up front in De Vries then Miller.
Enjoyed his most fruitful spell at the club playing under his former Inverness boss John Robertson but was always going to struggle to retain his place when it became apparent that the new regime were looking to spend big in the summer of 2005.
There were some wonderful moments which eventually helped Wyness win over the Gorgie faithful. The opener in Basle, a great solo effort against his Dunfermline and a late leveller against Rangers at Tynecastle will always ensure a warm welcome back to the club.
19. Mauricio Pinilla (8 appearances & 2 goals)
If this list was just to gauge the ability of these players then Pinilla would comfortably be in the top 10 but as much as we like to play his strike at Pittodrie on repeat and romanticise his time at the club, it is important to remember that he did not contribute much even though the club supported him hugely to try and help get his head straight.
There were strange decisions like having him play second fiddle to Jamie Mole in Athens which hindered his ability to make a bigger impact and the club would ultimately over complicate his contract renewal talks in 2008 which led to his departure.
18. Bjorn Johnsen (37 appearances & 6 goals)
One of the stronger themes from this list, is our failure to get the most out of a player whether it be injury, being part of the banter years or in this instance a change of manager.
It took Johnsen a couple of months to get up to speed with the games but a move to make him our main focal point up front with Arnaud Djoum and Jamie Walker playing behind him looked like a winning combination but it all came crashing down once Ian Cathro came in to replace Robbie Neilson and a couple of great performances against Rangers aside, the gangly striker failed to light-up the league the way his subsequent career moves have suggested he would be more than capable of doing.
17. Juanma (43 appearances & 13 goals)
Another who could have achieved a higher ranking if they had managed to harness their petulance and bone-idleness into something more productive.
It all began so brightly with a debut goal followed up by a double at Dens Park later that month,
But the bloom fell off the rose once more in a swift and frustrating fashion. The Spaniard seemed incapable of removing the theatrics and poor behaviours that are common abroad and although Robbie Neilson defended him during those earlier months, by the turn of the year it became apparent even to he that this was a battle he would not win.
There was still time for a winning double at home to Aberdeen to remind fans why they had fallen in love with him earlier on in the season but these moments became the exception rather than the rule although goals to games ration is still favourable compared to most on this list hence his inclusion in the top 20.
16. Michal Pospisil (67 appearances & 14 goals)
A popular player amongst fans who got a credible goals return given that over 50% of his appearances came as a sub.
Pospisil was a very underrated technically gifted player but found game time limited more down to the quality of his competition rather than an inability to make an impact himself.
He rightfully earns a top 20 spot due to a successful spot kick in the 2006 Scottish Cup final shoot-out victory over Gretna along with important strikes against Celtic & Hibs towards the end of the 06/07 season, and he had knack of putting Dunfermline to the sword scoring 6 of his 14 goals against them.