Hearts boss: We must tick all the boxes

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson says his team must be able to react to different situations

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson says his team must be able to react to different situations

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ROBBIE NEILSON says Hearts must continue to balance resilience and flair in their playing style as they prepare to travel to Firhill today.

Last week’s 5-1 win over Inverness included some stunning goals and proved the talent within Neilson’s side.

However, they have also been accused of being purely an industrial team of late. That sentiment is disputed within the club’s Riccarton training ground. Neilson stressed that he and his coaching team always preach a passing approach but that organisation and strength are equally important.

“You have to coach that [passing] way but sometimes in Scotland it can be difficult,” he said. “You get games where it’s 200 miles an hour, everyone is pressing and tackles are flying in. So it’s a balance between the two.

“You have to try and play, but you also need to defend well, be strong and be organised. It’s easy to say: ‘Right, let’s just go out and pass the ball about.’ If you do that in the top league and you aren’t organised, you’ll get turned over.”

Questions over Neilson’s tenure arose over the last month as Hearts exited the Europa League at the second qualifying stage, then lost to Celtic in the Premiership and St Johnstone in the League Cup.

A draw at Pittodrie and the destruction of Inverness hints at a recovery, but Neilson said he was never concerned about his players’ performance levels.

“It always gets thrown at you. When you have a couple of bad results, people always say: ‘What’s this team like and what’s the problem?’ I’ve been happy with our performances, although not the results.

“We know what we need to work on to improve. The team is moving in the right direction and it’s important we aren’t too negative when we have an issue or the performance drops a bit.”

Winger Jamie Walker has returned to the squad after serving a two-match suspension for simulation. However, he may start on the bench against Partick Thistle this afternoon.