Daniel Stendel pleased by spirited display and improvements in Hearts' performance despite Celtic loss

German boss heartened by players' reaction to St Johnstone defeat against league leaders

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 10:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 11:05 pm
Daniel Stendel was pleased to see an improved display from his team against Celtic

Daniel Stendel praised his Hearts players for taking a small step towards repairing their damaged relationship with their supporters after the 2-0 defeat by Celtic.

The Tynecastle side remain joint-bottom of the Premiership after first-half goals from Ryan Christie and Olivier Ntcham secured a predictable victory for the league leaders.

However, they were applauded off at the end by the home fans after a far more spirited display than they had produced when losing to St Johnstone at Tynecastle in Stendel’s first game in charge on Saturday.

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The German was encouraged by the improvement his team showed. “We wanted to change our performance tonight from the performance against St Johnstone on Saturday and I think we did it well,” he said.

“After the first 20 minutes or so, it was hard for my team to accept going 1-0 down to the first shot at our goal. But when you make mistakes and you are playing against a team with Celtic’s quality, then this can happen.

“But the reaction in the second half, when we were not only defending, was good. We tried to play on the front foot but maybe lacked quality and luck to create big chances in the final third. My team deserved to score one goal tonight but Celtic deserved to win because they had more big chances. We gave all we could tonight with our mentality and our fight.”

Stendel: We need the fans at Hamilton

Stendel felt the performance against Celtic went some way to getting disillusioned supporters back onside ahead of this weekend’s bottom-of-the-table showdown with Hamilton Accies in Lanarkshire.

“It was a good feeling for me in my second home game that we had so much support from the stands,” he said. “There is now a feeling that we can all achieve what we want when we get our fans behind us, especially at home games. But we will also need them on Saturday at Hamilton.”

After starting with two defeats, Stendel is intent on picking up his first points as Hearts manager.

“My team needed to change the situation and it was a good experience for us tonight,” he said. “Everyone can see it was a step forward. We would like to step forward so much more than just a small step but there is a good feeling we can do it.

“The next big step is to win some points, then the confidence will come back. Hopefully some players will come back from injury as well and we can have a good future.”

Stendel was unsure of the extent of injuries that forced both Jamie Brandon and Jake Mulraney to be substituted, although right-back Brandon was seen in a moon boot and on crutches at the end of the match.