Exclusive: Hearts coach Steven Naismith reveals his management plan after St Mirren talks
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The Hearts youth coach has definite aspirations to work at senior level and has already spoken to two clubs about managerial vacancies. He explained to the Evening News why he won’t rush to make the step up.
Naismith, 35, retired from playing last summer and is now in charge of Hearts Under-18s. He was invited for an interview by St Mirren before they appointed Stephen Robinson as Jim Goodwin’s successor on Tuesday.
He said he is content working at Riccarton and also enjoys his role within the Scotland international coaching team. When he feels the time is right, he will seek to become a manager in his own right.
“I’m comfortable here but I’m always thinking forward,” explained Naismith. “I’ve really enjoyed this role because I’ve learned so much. As long as I’m stimulated and learning, I’m happy. But there will be a time. I want to be a manager.
“I’m involved with the national team just now, plus I’ve got a great role at a great club like Hearts. This club wants to be the best it can be at first-team level and in terms of developing players.
“The only way for most Scottish clubs is to develop your own players and make money from them. I’m in a great position and I’m not in a rush, but when opportunities and chances come up then you go through processes you’ve never gone through.
“I’ve been a coach for nine months and I’ve spoken to two clubs. I haven’t been looking for a job, I’ve just been asked if I would have conversations. That’s brilliant experience even if nothing else comes of it.
“I’m content and happy. It’s very important that, when you do choose to become a manager, you make the right decision and don’t compromise. When it’s your first job, it needs to be right. If it isn’t right and you compromise, you are just asking for trouble.”
Naismith is preparing Hearts Under-18s for Thursday night’s Scottish Youth Cup semi-final against Inverness at Tynecastle Park. He took full charge of the side after predecessor John Rankin joined Hamilton in December.
“When I retired, I always said to myself I’m in no rush. That has stuck with me. I’m in no rush to get a [management] job,” he said. “When I joined Hearts, that was part of the conversation. They wanted me to get involved in the coaching side after I finished playing.
“I was quite demanding as a player. If I’m honest, I was thinking if the standard was less than that then I would be frustrated. I wasn't sure if youth coaching would be good for me in terms of not getting frustrated, but also not good for young pros. If I’m just getting frustrated and annoyed, then it won’t be a good session for them and they won’t learn as much.
“The way it fell into place with Ranks moving on has probably been the best thing. I’m in full control of the Under-18s, how we train and play, and it’s been brilliant. I’m really enjoying it.”
Free entry for all supporters at Hearts v Inverness CT Scottish Youth Cup semi-final this Thursday (7pm kick-off).