Hearts need to work on playing three-man defence – Neilson

Head coach Robbie Neilson believes playing three centre-halves gives Hearts 'security'
Head coach Robbie Neilson believes playing three centre-halves gives Hearts 'security'
28
Have your say

Robbie Neilson will continue implementing a three-man defence at Hearts but admitted the system still needs plenty work.

The head coach said he will use the 3-5-2 formation going forward because it allows a good degree of flexibility.

Monday night’s 3-3 draw at Hamilton saw Hearts start with three centre-backs for the first time this season. Their defence looked disjointed at times and they could revert to a flat back four against Motherwell on Saturday. The Brazilian defender Igor Rossi has now served the one-game ban which precluded him from the Hamilton match.

Neilson insisted he will continue to drill the three-man system in training because, over the coming weeks and months, he intends to use it again.

“I like having two up front – I think that helps us,” he told the Evening News. “Playing 3-5-2 gives us a bit of security and dominance in the middle so it’s definitely something we’ll use. We’ve been working on it for two or three months, trying to implement it here and there. It’s something I’d like to continue. We need to keep working on it defensively. We definitely need to keep developing it but it takes time. We’ve been changing our shape during the game. The players enjoy doing it and you can see the benefits at times.

“It’s something we’ve been working on during games, trying to get into that system. Going to Hamilton, we knew they’re very direct. They’ll try to turn you all the time. They don’t look to play into a striker’s feet, they play it in behind all the time. Playing three at the back gives you an extra defender to try and cover.

“I thought the three worked really well for the first half an hour. Then it became quite a scrappy game. It’s difficult to go to Hamilton and implement your style of play. Try and play and it breaks down, then you get turned over the top. The ball goes out for a throw-in and you have to build again.”

Neilson took positives and negatives from the draw at Hamilton. While concerned at the manner in which his team found themselves 3-1 down in the second half, he praised their ability to recover.

“We’re a team that’s developing so we aren’t going to go through the season winning every game,” he said. “It’s important we keep trying to win. It would have been easy when we were 3-1 down at Hamilton to stop taking the ball and stop going forward. To a man, we kept going and kept taking the ball and getting forward.

“We know there is a good team and good players here. A lot of good teams have dropped points at Hamilton because they’ve gone there and been turned over. We got a point, we wanted three, but the manner we recovered is pleasing.”