Daniel Stendel reveals Hearts' January signing plans and the need for more professionalism
German has several new faces in mind for relegation fight
Hearts manager Daniel Stendel wants January signings with real ambition who will make an immediate impact on the club's fight to escape relegation.
The German admits finances will influence his options but he also plans to improve standards and professionalism at Riccarton. Young players out on loan, such Harry Cochrane and Connor Smith, are also poised to be recalled and given opportunities in the first team.
With the winter transfer window now open, Stendel has an opportunity to reinforce his squad in key areas. The three-week break offers time to negotiate deals and he has several targets in mind. He admitted it is not easy to convince players to join a club five points adrift at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership.
"The goal at the moment is to stabilise our team and to win games," explained the German coach. "We talk a bit about going higher in the table but, after my first five games, we just need to get some wins. Then we can look in the summer for new things. At the moment, we need things to help us immediately – and turn things around over the next four months.
"I have some ideas but, in the end, it’s not always my decision. Our club has to decide, the other club has to decide, money decides and the player himself has to decide to come. I hope I can convince someone to come and join this club.
"If you don’t know Scottish football and the league, and you just look at the table, it’s not so easy to be convinced. You try telling someone to come to the team at the bottom of the league – but explain that we’re so much better than that. It’s difficult, but I will do it.
"I like it when I can think: ‘This player can help us.’ Okay, it might be a difficult situation but we need more players like this. This is also the reason we will bring two or three loan players back to the squad in January from the academy who can give us more power in training and who have more ambition to say: ‘I want to play’.
"People who don’t expect it but have the ambition to play at Tynecastle, and who will push the players who stay here, and when they are better they will play. At the moment the feeling is: ‘Okay, I will play or I will not play...it doesn’t matter’.
"We need more ambition. This club has ambition, we want to be one of the best clubs in Scotland. At the moment there is a big gap between the best teams, and I want to have players in the squad who have ambitions. And I think for this we need new players."
Injured players like Steven Naismith, John Souttar and Jamie Walker could be fit to help Hearts' cause by the time the break ends. "Three weeks is a good time to change it but if you have not played for months then you can't expect to play the next ten games in a row and all is good," said Stendel.
"We don't have much time and we need to get the best players on the pitch who can change our game. The game against Hibs was okay but you need to win games like that."
Some members of the first-team squad at Riccarton will be moved on to create space and free up wages for new recruits. Stendel explained that he is also focused on improving standards behind the scenes on the "sports side".
He is keen to bring in coaches who worked under him at Barnsley, Chris Stern and Dale Tonge, but may need to settle for one of them in the short term. Hearts' reserve coach Andy Kirk is assisting the manager at the moment, with Craig Levein and Austin MacPhee sharing sporting director duties for now.
"When I came here, the first thought was only to win games. We looked at the best squads for the games. I have some opinions on some players, who is good enough and not good enough," said Stendel.
"At the moment we try to get all the sports side of the club together. A lot of things have changed at this club, especially on the sports side. It’s not only the manager but a lot of things around the team.
"When we achieve the same level across this side of things, we will have a really, really good club – and a really good team. We need to improve our sports side. For me, that is everything on the pitch, on the training pitch, here at Oriam. We try to bring more professionalism to this club on the sports side.
"When I talk with Ann Budge and other people on the administration side of the club, you can see how they work in the boardroom, it’s so professional. We need to work hard to bring the sports side of the club up to the same level. Then we are not just a good club but a big club."