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Players Back Shiels Not With Knives
Published : 12 Feb 2012 18:11:14
There does not appear to be any animosity among the Kilmarnock players to their manager.
While there appears to be some knives out for Killie manager Kenny Shiels, his players are right behind him. Shiels has not won many friends among the managerial fraternity recently as he appears to want to tell them how they should play their team or conduct themselves. Kilmarnock striker Paul Heffernan insists the Rugby Park squad are 100% behind their manager. Shiels most recent 'quotable quote' was how Paulo Sergio should have walked away from Hearts after he was not permitted to play Marian Kello in goal in two games. In a pre-game interview, Sergio joked he would shake Shiels' hand and neck before the game and also suggested that Killie players were speaking negatively of their manager behind his back. This set the scene nicely for the encounter between the side on Saturday which ended in a draw after Suso Santana's injury-time equaliser ended the feisty encounter at Rugby Park. Heffernan was on hand to score the opening goal 10 minutes from time to put Kilmarnock ahead but substitute Santana headed in Ryan McGowan's cross late in the game to ensure a share of the points. Both sides lost men to red cards as Dieter van Tornhout and Jamie Hamill were both given their marching orders in the second half. As it turned out the Portuguese manager refused a pre-game handshake with his Rugby Park counterpart. Commenting on the anti-Shiels comment Heffernan said: "I have no idea where he (Sergio) got that from, the players are 100% behind what the gaffer is trying to do here. I think the manager calls it as he sees it, not just to the press but to the players as well. If he isn't happy with something he will tell you, I don't mind it personally and I am sure none of the lads do either." Winter has hit pitches around the country hard and Heffernan bemoaned the state of the Rugby Park pitch, admitting it is becoming difficult to produce their usual fluent passing game. He said: "The pitch is making things very tough, it was a little better today but that was the first time we have played on it for three weeks. Before today it was almost unplayable, it certainly isn't ideal for our style of play and we are having to change our tactics for our home games." Hearts manager Sergio explained his reasons for refusing to shake Shiels' hand and insisted he holds no hard feelings towards Kilmarnock. There was more drama at the final whistle as tempers flared following a handshake between Kilmarnock's Dean Shiels and the Hearts manager, resulting in a shoving match between a number of players. Sergio said: "You have to understand why I don't want to shake his hand. When he came the second time at the end of the game, it was just to provoke me and get a reaction from the crowd. I have no issue with the kid Dean and wouldn't like to see him punished. I would like to wish Kilmarnock all the best and I respect their fans." Despite snatching a last-gasp equaliser, Sergio believed his side should have left Rugby Park with all three points, claiming his side were the only team in the gane for long spells. He went on: "Normally Kilmarnock have very good possession, but they didn't have the ball. We were the ones playing well but we lacked a freshness up front. At least we got a point, which was more than deserved."