Daniel Stendel reveals plan for new Hearts structure focused on youth
Hearts manager Daniel Stendel today outlined plans to restructure his team by playing more youngsters alongside a few experienced anchors.
The German admitted he cannot say how his squad will look come the summer or when matches might restart, but he is planning ahead with clear ideas.
Ideally, he wants to promote more Riccarton youth academy graduates into the senior side. Established names like captain Steven Naismith, striker Liam Boyce and defender Michael Smith would guide those with less experience.
Stendel believes young players’ energy suits his attacking style of play and wants Hearts to keep Euan Henderson and Lewis Moore, who are both out of contract next month.
Players are currently negotiating with the club hierarchy over whether to accept 50 per cent wage cuts or defer part of their salaries during the coronavirus shutdown.
Stendel is working without pay from home in Hannover and would be able to cancel his contract at Tynecastle in the event of Hearts being relegated from the Premiership.
However, he spoke to the Evening News about how he envisages reshaping the squad, and how Hearts’ regular starting line-up could look dramatically different in a few months’ time.
“I don't know what will happen after the break, which players will still be at Hearts,” he said. “The idea that we have is to keep the young players at the club and develop the team with some experienced players like Liam Boyce, Michael Smith and Steven Naismith.
“There are so many more young players that we can develop a new team with a new structure. For this, we have some really good young players. Yes, they need to improve, but they also need the chance to play.
“It's very difficult at the moment. We have a lot of players and nobody can say what the situation is with the contracts in the summer, or how many players we can sign. Have we got the money to sign new players? Have we got the money to keep all our players?
“What I can say is that we are trying to keep the young players at the club. We keep in touch with the young guys and their agents.”
Stendel hopes Hearts players can refocus quickly once pay negotiations finish. Owner Ann Budge has offered to terminate contracts but only defender Clevid Dikamona has agreed to take up that option so far.
"I think every player has given a sign that he wants to help the club, and that is a good sign. We need to find the best way for this,” said Stendel.
“Ideally, everybody gets their money but after this you can be more in touch with the club. You can come more together in your work because you have a difficult situation.
“Nobody can say at the moment when we can restart games. Some prognosis in Germany says we cannot play a normal game with fans for maybe one year. We all hope it is quicker but nobody can say at the moment.”
Other European leagues are considering closed-door matches to complete season 2019/20. That is unlikely in Scotland for a variety of reasons, including player safety and lost gate revenue for clubs.
“You can only do it in Scotland when you change the money from the TV,” insisted Stendel. “If nobody can go in the stadium and the fans only watch at home, then you need to get more money from TV.
“Clubs will not have money from fans in the stadium. This is the situation at the moment for clubs in the third and fourth league in Germany.”
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