Christophe Berra names the next Hearts challenge as Hibs and Aberdeen comparison proves one thing

Former Hearts captain Christophe Berra has been appointed interim head coach of Huntsville City FC. Former Hearts captain Christophe Berra has been appointed interim head coach of Huntsville City FC.
Former Hearts captain Christophe Berra has been appointed interim head coach of Huntsville City FC.
The former Hearts defender has high hopes for the Hampden encounter with Rangers.

Christophe Berra is excited to see how Hearts get on in Scottish Cup semi-final action - and defensive consistency is a big factor behind their European push.

The Jambos head into battle with Rangers on a high, having moved within touching distance of confirming the Premiership’s third spot. After a Celtic win in the other last four tie with Aberdeen, the best of the rest finish behind Scotland’s top two will be a European ticket beyond Halloween worth seven figures to whoever gets it.

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That looks likely to be Hearts, who played in the Europa Conference League group stage in 2022. Former captain Berra - who recently was appointed interim head coach at American side Huntsville City - reckons that ahead of the tussle with Rangers, head coach Steven Naismith’s are a match for anybody. The real test comes next season on the continent.

He told the Edinburgh Evening News: "Obviously they are a consistent team with a specific way of playing. They are going to finish third again. Last year was difficult for them being in Europe so the test will come, being in European football again and how you juggle that.

“Hearts have got one of the best squads in the league and going into the semi-final, I know Rangers are going through a little sticky period. Hearts will be going full of confidence and it's an opportunity to get to the final and make history and they are in a good place just now, a very good place. They have made big strides. Hibs and Aberdeen have found it very difficult. Hearts are a team who on on their day can beat any of the Old Firm.”

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Naismith endured a sticky start to his time as Hearts head coach, but has come through with the full support of the Tynecastle board, with fans fully onside with his ideas. Berra reckons that his former teammate inherited a solid base from predecessor Robbie Neilson, but he’s gone about things the right way to avoid the state of managerial flux Hibs and Aberdeen have found themselves in after sacking managers this season.

He explained: “I think when Steven inherited the team, there was a good foundation there from Robbie Neilson. They had a strong structure and I don't think there has been that big a turnaround in players. They have a strong base of players who have been there and know the club a little bit more. Whereas Aberdeen, Hibs, they are going through transitional periods chopping and changing managers.

“They've not really got a set structure, it's maybe square pegs in round holes with certain players. That was a lot of the good work done by previous managers, Robbie obviously and then Steven has come over and inherited that. He's his own man as well so he'll add things with how he thinks the game should be played.

“He probably did have a sticky period but the club stuck with him. Hearts over the piece have stuck by managers, some management longer than they should have, I don't know.

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“They are reaping the rewards just now. It's all there for him to kick on and the big challenge will be Europe again, dealing with that and going into the league campaign where teams like Hibs, Hearts Aberdeen, Kilmarnock are going to come back stronger and more consistent. It's all credit to the club and coaching staff.”

A player who has impressed Berra this season is Frankie Kent. The central defender has been an impressive performer since moving from Peterborough United last summer and the consistency found in defence has aided a successful push up the league table.

Berra added: "Hearts have always been a solid team over the piece. He's come into a team with strong foundations and a strong identity of the way they want to do things. It's so much easier coming into that team, whereas in the past it's maybe been chopping and changing players here and there, styles of play.

“I think Steven has been really consistent in that, he makes tweaks here and there. I have always thought your centre-back need to be playing 90-95% of your games. You need to be robust. It's difficult if you have centre-backs who are injured every three games, back for three or four and out for three or four. Their back four or five, It's been consistent which makes things so much easier."

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