Andy Halliday interview: Chapping Hearts manager's door, new deal and goal bonus, plus a Rangers warning

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Andy Halliday warned Hearts to be wary of floundering Rangers on Wednesday and admitted he is shocked after scoring four goals in four games. The midfielder is in rich form ahead of the trip to Ibrox, where supporters are unhappy with manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

Rangers’ Premiership defeat at St Johnstone on Sunday leaves them seven points behind league-leaders Celtic ahead of Hearts’ arrival in Govan. The Edinburgh club beat Motherwell 3-2 at Tynecastle to go fourth in the table, with Halliday scoring twice. One of those was another header to follow the one at Ross County last week. He also struck against RFS in the Europa Conference League three days previously.

The relentless schedule of Hearts matches stretched the squad but, with two games to the winter break, Halliday stressed it is time to battle through as he prepared to face his old club. “When you’re winning games you just want the next one to come, although when you are losing you want the next one to come even quicker so that you can put it right,” he said. “We are in a good place right now but when Rangers or Celtic are maybe not in the best place, they are tough to play against because they are like a wounded animal.

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“I think you saw that when they came to Tynecastle earlier in the season. We tried to be positive and play on the front foot. We were probably disappointed with our own performance and we got punished. It is up to us, over the next few days, to recover properly, work on our gameplan and try to stick to it. There’s a few boys carrying knocks and we are just trying to do our utmost, trying to push through and do what we can for the team. We have two games until the break so you just try to grit your teeth and get on with it.”

Halliday quipped that he will be approaching manager Robbie Neilson for a new contract as reward for his goalscoring form. “To be honest, the gaffer’s door is getting chapped. I want a new contract with a goal bonus in it,” he smiled. “I don't know what has come over me recently but most importantly we got three points on Sunday. I definitely didn't expect to score another header. I just saw the boys all looking shocked.”

He was substituted before he could claim a hat-trick, with Lawrence Shankland scoring the decisive penalty. Halliday revealed he has been telling coaches to put him in scoring positions. “I’m the one badgering them to put me in the box. Last week, though it was tongue in cheek, I said: ‘Put me in the box.’ I certainly don’t expect myself to go and score set-pieces but that’s two [headers] in two games now so I don't think they can change it. They've got to keep me in.

“Twice I’ve been on a double and not managed to see out the game. No, seriously, I don't care. Three points is all that matters. Lawrence Shankland asked me if I would’ve been trying to take the ball off him [for the penalty] if I was still on the pitch and I said: ‘No chance, you’re the penalty taker. Just go and win us the game’.”