A warning for Hearts as a ruthless attitude takes hold at Tynecastle

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Management refuse to let up despite the 12-point advantage in third place

The ruthless attitude taking hold at Hearts is reinforced by head coach Steven Naismith's refusal to let up despite a 12-point advantage in the Premiership. Saturday's 3-2 win at Dundee extended the gap in third place but no-one at Riccarton will be allowed to relax with 14 league games remaining.

Naismith is confident that the first-team squad contains the necessary drive to continue pushing forward in both the Premiership and Scottish Cup. Whilst pleased at the points cushion his team have, Naismith will not permit any relent between now and May. Hearts' last nine matches yielded eight wins and a draw, with 34 league points amassed from the last 42 available.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Naismith explained to the Edinburgh News that he likes the demands players put on one another, and issued a warning to anyone thinking there is a limit to either individual or collective potential at Tynecastle. "I think we have a driven group. The players are demanding of each other. It's so exciting that we've been increasingly progressing at each stage of the season. There is a lot of change happened and everybody has bought into it," he said.

"We all want to get better, everybody has their personal goals. On top of that, what can we actually do as a team here? All the different parts of the game that have been better this season, let's see how good they can be come the summer.

"You will get to the end of the season and reflect on whether it's a good season or not. We have done a lot of good work, but how good can we make this? That's the challenge here. When you get to the end of a season, even if it has been successful, there is still a challenge for the next season: 'Right, can we be better? Can we be better as a group? Can we be better individually?'

"Ultimately, you want to get to your goals. Whether that's to move and play in a higher league, whether it's European football, whether it's getting into your international team, everybody has their own goals. It's just a constant striving to keep getting better.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It's not a case of taking your foot off the gas and thinking: 'Great, we've done a lot of good work.' As a professional footballer, there should not be any let-up. Your career is short and you need to use all your time to maximise what you can do in the game.

"If I see any player limiting themselves, they are not going to last long. You lose your drive, your understanding of what actually gets you out of bed in the morning, and what your goal is. If you don't have that or you lose it, you are no use to us, really."

Character is underpinning the nine-match unbeaten run and was again in evidence on Saturday. After coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Ross County in December and overhauling the same deficit to beat Dundee 3-2 last month, Naismith's side again demonstrated their resilience on Tayside.

They trailed 1-0 to Jordan McGhee's header before Alan Forrest equalised. Lyall Cameron put Dundee 2-1 ahead, then Lawrence Shankland's penalty levelled the match at 2-2. The irrepressible Shankland then produced a winning goal on 88 minutes to secure three points for Hearts. Naismith extolled his team's resilience and fight.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"In my time as a player here, it was something that was questioned," he said. "It's part of us learning, growing and becoming a more confident team. Teams set up differently and make it tough for us and we aren't always going to get it right. So, when you concede, how do you react?

"We continue to do the right things all the time. It's not by luck that we got the goals on Saturday. We got the goal late at Spartans in the cup because we continue to play and probe. We don't just go long, let them defend it, and then it's 50-50 if the ball drops to you. It was the same at Ross County and against Dundee at home. We have a real belief in what we want to do.

"I thought our performance on Saturday was good. There were small details in it. The goals we lost were poor, which makes it harder, but I thought we were a threat all day. We created chances from early to late in the game. As the team is growing and gaining more understanding, that character is coming out in abundance from everybody."

Around 2,500 Hearts fans travelled to Dens Park and celebrated a dramatic win at full-time. "I thought the fans were good," said Naismith. "I thought there was an understanding when we went behind because I think people could see that we were a threat and were still in the game. We are dominating more games now than we have for a while in terms of possession and chances. That's where the frustration comes. You feel you have that pressure: 'We should be in front and if we're not, it's not good enough.'

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"You need to break teams down, wait for the moments, and when one comes the game opens up. Saturday was another win and just keeps the momentum going. If we keep winning, teams will drop points. Some teams round about us dropped points at the weekend, and Dundee away is tough. They will win more games at Dens Park than not."

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.