Austin MacPhee: Europa League still a realistic goal for Hearts

Interim manager believes Europe is achievable after 5-2 win against St Mirren

Saturday, 9th November 2019, 5:57 pm
Updated Saturday, 9th November 2019, 5:59 pm
Austin MacPhee was animated in the dugout as Hearts beat St Mirren 5-2.

Hearts' interim manager Austin MacPhee insisted the club can still achieve European football following their first home league win of the season against St Mirren.

The victory leaves the Edinburgh club 13 points behind Aberdeen in third place, which secures a Europa League qualifying place for whoever claims it come next May.

Steven Naismith, Uche Ikpeazu, Oliver Bozanic, Jamie Walker and Jake Mulraney scored in the 5-2 win over St Mirren at Tynecastle Park as MacPhee continued in temporary charge.

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Hearts began the day joint-bottom of the Premiership with Saints, but MacPhee stated at full-time that a place in Europe come the end of the season is not beyond his side.

"The club is built for Europa League football. Nobody is running away with third place so I still think that is a very achievable goal for the club. It's still early days in the season and we need to build on this result," he said.

"It was very important that the club won to allow the appropriate time to set the infrastructure for the next period at Hearts - and allow everybody to relax a little bit. Hopefully the performance of the players and their reaction to myself makes nobody panic.

"I thought it was a very positive performance. We scored five league goals for the first time since August 2016, we scored three league goals for the first time in over a year, and we won at home in the league for the first time in seven months. I thought the players showed fantastic resilience when it went 1-1 and 2-2. The continued to play on the front foot. I asked a couple of players to do things a bit differently and they did that well.

"Jamie and Steven made big contributions. Steven playing straight through the middle was important. He is an excellent finisher. Ultimately, goals is something we have been sort of in recent weeks. I asked Uche to do a job off the right and he did very well, plus Jamie scored a fantastic header."

Asked if he is a candidate for the manager or sporting director vacancy at Tynecastle, MacPhee replied: "I've been asked to do this as interim manager and I'm just focused on doing that. The result allows everyone to breathe.

"The club are looking at the football department as a whole and [owner] Ann Budge has spoken about hiring a sporting director and a new head coach. She will be assessing my competencies for whatever, if any, role at the club."