Robbie Neilson explained today that Hearts must accept defensive mistakes as a consequence of playing football from the back.
The head coach praised centre-backs Danny Wilson and Alim Ozturk and said they will continue to pass the ball rather than kick it long – even if that means errors arising.
Hearts’ style of play under Neilson has centred around passing and dominating possession and he has no intention of compromising on that philosophy. The Edinburgh club are top of the SPFL Championship with a seven-point lead over second-placed Rangers.
Wilson and Ozturk have been criticised when caught on the ball this season as they try to carry out Neilson’s orders to build from defence. Team coaches are adamant that the approach will continue despite mistakes being made. Neilson stressed that errors are unavoidable for any team trying to keep the ball at the back.
“Danny and Alim are looking strong together and I’ve been pleased with them. The two of them are ball-playing centre-halves who pass it well and are confident in possession,” he told the Evening News. “They will make mistakes. They made a couple last Sunday and Hibs nearly got in but there has to be a balance between wanting them to play football and accepting the mistakes.
“It’s the easiest thing in the world for them to just get the ball at their feet and smash it up the park. We aren’t going to build anything that way and we won’t get players we want into the game, like Nicholsons and Kings. We need to accept that, now and again, they will give the ball away and they will make mistakes.”
Wilson and Ozturk are Hearts’ favoured centre-back pairing, although the former is struggling with a hamstring problem ahead of Saturday’s match with Raith Rovers at Tynecastle.
“I think they’ve been fantastic so far and the longer they play together, the better they will get,” continued Neilson. “You can see already they have a respect for each other and they enjoy playing beside one another.”