'Everyone has been impressed': Hearts star lifts lid on Steven Naismith's dedication
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Board members are currently in discussions as whether the 36-year-old will be the full-time successor to Robbie Neilson after he stepped in to lead the team for the final seven games of the 2022/23 season.
Naismith didn’t succeed in his objective of overhauling the gap between Hearts and Aberdeen and finishing in third place, but the improvement in performances has won him supporters both inside and outside of the boardroom.
Gordon, who has yet to feature for Naismith due to a double leg-break sustained in December, revealed the former Hearts forward went above and beyond to make sure the squad understood his instructions as he sought to make Hearts a more aggressively attacking team during his caretaker spell.
“He thinks about the game, he is very intense and he knows exactly what he wants. He has been so enthusiastic about it. Everybody within the whole club has been very impressed,” said Gordon.
"He has been very clear about what he wants. He spent a lot of time on it, a lot of time in meetings. He brought in smaller group meetings, where he was speaking to defenders, or different parts of the team where he tried to show them what he was looking for and he put an enormous amount of effort into trying to get his message across in terms of how he wanted us to play. We could start to see what he was looking for and the players responded to it. They enjoyed the training and they tried to implement it as best they could.”
Hearts were victorious in only two of the seven games, drawing another three, but Gordon reckons circumstance outwith Naismith’s control went against him at times.
“There isn’t a great deal more he could have done,” he said. “There is a lot that went against us in that time, in terms of red cards and things that have been sent to try him. He has managed to come out the other side, so personally I think he can be very happy with how he has handled the seven games.”
Craig Gordon was speaking at Camstradden Primary, in Drumchapel, as part of the Scottish FA’s Week of Football. Pupils took part in a creative writing competition called When I Played For Scotland, as part of Learning Through Football - a Scottish FA programme designed to support teaching and learning through the context of the national game. It is used by pupils and school across Scotland.