Determined Hearts manager Gary Locke insists he won’t stop soul searching as he bids to lift his young team out of their slump and restore some optimism among the Tynecastle support.
While the club received encouragement yesterday as it emerged that they hope to begin the process of coming out of administration, the story on the field of play is less promising. After picking up just one point from their last six league games, Hearts languish 13 points adrift of Kilmarnock at the foot of the table ahead of Saturday’s crunch showdown at Rugby Park.
Locke admits he is enduring an agonising period in his fledgling managerial career, with Saturday nights now spent watching video reruns of his side’s latest setback as he bids to reignite the club’s battle against the drop.
“The last few Saturdays have been a disaster,” he told the Evening News. “I analyse everything after every game, so I’ve spent the last three or four Saturday nights watching games back and questioning myself. You’ve got to do that as a manager. I ask myself ‘did I do anything wrong?’, ‘could I have done this better?’, ‘could I have done that better?’ You’re always questioning yourself, but you’ve got to remain positive.”
Locke has been in the game long enough to know there will always be a few murmurs of discontent from the stands when things aren’t going well on the pitch.
Despite the unprecedented constraints he is operating under, the manager understands fans’ frustration at seeing the early-season feelgood factor diminish. However, he reiterated the importance of supporters sticking with their team at a time when the players need their backing more than ever. “I’m just as frustrated as the supporters – we all just want to see Hearts winning,” he said.
“There are a number of reasons that we aren’t picking up points, mainly because we’re such a young team and I think it’s important that people don’t forget that. It was always going to be a big ask. It’s important that the fans stay behind us – they’ve been different class so far. The support we took to Motherwell was brilliant – they filled the top tier and really got behind the team.
“Because we’re such a young team, I had a feeling we’d probably hit a stage of the season where we’d hit a rough spell and we seem to be having it at the moment. It’s been a difficult few weeks but there’s no doom and gloom in the dressing-room or the training academy. It’s more important than ever now that everyone sticks together and gets behind the team, and if that happens, we can get out of the rut we’re in.”