Daniel Stendel: 'I am a fighter all the time - I cannot believe Hearts won't stay up'
Tynecastle manager says being popular with fans is not enough
Daniel Stendel admits Hearts’ current malaise may have been years in the making – but insisted he will fight until the bitter end to avoid relegation.
The German manager remains popular with supporters despite a difficult start to life at Tynecastle Park. He told the Evening News that is not enough for him as he craves Premiership survival.
Hearts’ results improved slightly before football’s coronavirus-enforced shutdown and Stendel remains an iconic figure among many fans, but he acknowledged there is significant work to do if matches restart before summer.
Hearts sit bottom of the league and four points adrift of second-bottom Hamilton Academical with eight league games remaining.
Their results took an upward turn with wins against Rangers and Hibs, plus a draw with Motherwell, before defeat at St Mirren prior to the game’s indefinite suspension.
Stendel is currently back home in Hannover planning ahead in the hope the Scottish season can resume before July. He is aware Hearts underachieved in recent years, finishing fifth, sixth and sixth in the last three campaigns under predecessors Ian Cathro and Craig Levein.
He told the Evening News he cannot accept thoughts of relegation and will battle to keep the Edinburgh club in the top flight.
"I know and you know we need success. Being only a nice guy is not enough,” he said. “I was successful at every club I worked.
“This was my first time and a difficult time in this job for me. I want to win this fight, not only for the club but also for myself. I am a fighter all the time, as a player and a coach, and I cannot believe that we cannot win this.
"The last few weeks showed that things have improved, but not enough. You can say this situation was coming over the last few years but it doesn't matter.
“We have the mandate to keep Hearts up. I don't know what will happen in the next few weeks or few months.”
Hearts players are currently working at home using individual programmes to maintain personal fitness. The club’s Riccarton training base will remain closed to the entire squad the foreseeable future.
"We cannot train with all the players together at the moment. Every player has a plan to train, to run, and to do some work to keep their fitness up as much as possible,” explained Stendel.
“Some players have family in Edinburgh, some players are alone with family in the south, or in Ireland or France. It is important you are close to your family. That is more important than a lot of things right now.
“We also must look at how quickly we can be back in Edinburgh to train if the situation changes. My feeling is that will not happen in the next few days. When I see the situation in Germany, I believe this will come more and more to the UK.”