Morale around Riccarton has been high all week since Hearts opened their league campaign with a 2-1 win at Ibrox. Captain Danny Wilson, however, has a stark warning for anyone connected with the Tynecastle club already thinking of title success.
Both clubs involved in tomorrow’s Edinburgh derby have designs on winning this season’s Championship, as do Rangers despite their opening-weekend loss. Wilson is determined to keep everyone around him level-headed and focused on tomorrow’s encounter with Hibs.
“In the dressing room, we believe we’ve got the makings of a good team. We’re not a good team yet. We still have a lot of work to do,” he told the Evening News. “If you ask the players from all these teams, they’d all like to be in with a shout. We’ve made a good start and we want it to become even better this weekend. We’ll take it game by game. We won’t say we’re going to do this or that because you can come unstuck at any moment and get left looking very silly.”
The words are very much in keeping with Wilson’s character. The mature outlook saw him named Hearts captain after the club entered administration last summer. They are now much more financially stable and capable of mounting a challenge in the second tier. Wilson is simply thinking one step at a time, though, ahead of the first league Edinburgh derby outwith Scotland’s top flight.
“We’re confident after getting a good result last week. It wasn’t the best performance we’ve had but we got the result so we’re looking forward to tomorrow,” he continued. “I wouldn’t get carried away with winning at Ibrox. It was obviously great to win but there are certain things we can do better.
“We’ve been trying to put that right on the training field this week. We want to take that into Sunday but derbies are tough games and you don’t always get the chance to play. I’d expect more of the same tomorrow, although we’ll try our best to play with our new style.
“A derby is a derby, no matter what league it’s in. They are always tough games and we have to be ready for that. We got a good win last weekend but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t follow it up with another good performance and win this week.”
Wilson has more cause than most to feel satisfied with last Sunday’s efforts in Glasgow. He headed the opening goal in Hearts’ 2-1 win against his former club, which was secured by Osman Sow’s dramatic stoppage-time winner just seconds after Nicky Law’s equaliser for Rangers.
Given the amount of sniping Wilson encountered after leaving Ibrox for Liverpool as a teenager in 2010, he could easily have milked the moment. Again, that’s not his style.
“I’m not a bitter person. I don’t really think about that kind of thing,” he explained. “There will always be people who have their comments and remarks about it. I don’t take too much notice of it. At the end of the day, they weren’t in the situation I was in. They were only an outsider looking in. I know what happened, I know why I made my decisions and I’m happy in my own mind with that. I can put up with people who have little comments to make about it.
“I’m the captain of Heart of Midlothian and I’m happy where I am. I’ve always found it easy to block these things out. It’s more people around me who find it harder to deal with, like my girlfriend and my family. I just take it in my stride. I’m not fussed about it any more. Personally, I’m just happy the team got the result. I know that’s an old cliche but that is the most important thing at the end of the day. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d scored and the team had gone on to lose the game. It was a brilliant atmosphere. To win the game in the manner we did helped.
“There was a point when Rangers equalised when you thought they might go on to win it given the time that was added on. To get another goal so quickly was a massive relief for us. We managed to see the game out and we were all delighted afterwards. We all know it’s just a start, though. It’s only one game. We need to continue to better our performance from last week but keep getting results like that.”
Wilson is determined to score more goals over the weeks and months to come despite being a centre-back. “I was happy just to get us off to a good start. I managed to get a goal and it’s important I add more goals to my game to help the team. We didn’t get a lot of goals last year from all over the pitch so I think it’s important everybody chips in when they can this year.
“I’ve scored a few goals from corners so hopefully I can just add to that. I’m not going to set myself any targets because I’d rather we were keeping clean sheets. That’s a bigger target for me rather than scoring. It’s vital to keep goals out at the back to give us a platform to build from.”
After helping slay Rangers, what does he expect from Hibs in a fixture Hearts have largely dominated in recent years? “It is a derby and they’ll be well up for it,” explained the 22-year-old. “They took a bit of time to get themselves together over the summer but they seem to have done that now.
“Alan Stubbs has got them playing a good style of football. We’ve done our homework on them this week but we won’t get ourselves too drawn up on them. We will need to play well and we’ve worked on things in training that can hopefully win us the game.
“I don’t think you can read anything into previous results when it comes to derbies. We won four out of five games against Hibs last year but that can happen in a season. Luckily for us, we were the ones winning last season. This year, it’s two different teams, two different managers and both clubs find themselves in very different situations now. I think it will come down to which team adapts best on the day.”