Andraz Struna today hit back at claims Hearts’ foreign players don’t care about the jersey.
The Slovenian spoke out ahead of tonight’s match with Ross County to declare that every first-team member is hurt by recent results.
Struna was one of nine new faces to arrive at Tynecastle during the January transfer window. None are Scottish and most are on short-term contracts, leading to suggestions that some aren’t giving 100 per cent for the Hearts cause.
Last week’s Scottish Cup exit against Hibs and Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Partick Thistle were both notable for a lack of energy and fight within some players.
With only three wins in nine games since the winter break, Struna admitted something is wrong and it may take time to fix.
However, he explained that the players are anxious about results and desperately want to resolve the situation, starting tonight.
Asked if it hurts hearing accusations that the foreigners don’t care, he replied: “It does. Maybe somebody sees it like this or it seems that you don’t want it, but you do want it.
“Firstly, it’s you who is disappointed, then everybody around you. You want it. We try, we discuss a lot, we speak a lot between ourselves, trying to find solutions.
“We know that it’s not good. We know that something is wrong because, at the end, when you see the results, they are not what we want. But still, we care and we fight. That’s most important.”
The fact many of the new arrivals could be gone again in the summer does not mean they are flippant about Hearts’ fortunes, according to Struna.
“I disagree with this,” he said. “You can look at that the opposite way. The player who signs only for six months maybe wants to prolong his contract, so he must show himself. Maybe after six months, he will be without a club, without security, salaries and all this. So I cannot agree with this.
“Like sportsmen, everybody wants it. This is not a reason at all. You cannot live if you are not happy. Who wants to live if he is not happy? And we are not happy now. Nobody is happy with these results.
“We are sportsmen, we live for this. It’s hard. It happens a lot of times to everybody, big clubs, small clubs, in every sport.”
Struna, 27, added that criticism has helped new players bond with team-mates at Riccarton. “It’s good that you asked me this. We must be together. We know that we are together in this. Now even more, we must step together and be like one,” he continued.
“Only like this can we do positive things. This is very important now. Don’t be distracted by what’s around us. Everybody has been in this situation in history. We know how to deal with this.
“The most important thing for me is that the team and everybody at the club is together. Also, the fans must understand. Maybe it’s not seen, but all the time we are representing the club.
“That’s the only way we can step up again. Maybe you are disappointed one day, two days, five days, one year, two years, but soon you will fix things. Soon the results will be positive again.”
The poor run is taking its toll on players old and new, with Struna admitting he and his colleagues are “stressed” about the situation. The aftermath of Saturday’s match was an example.
“There were emotions. Everything came from disappointment. We were not angry with each other, but we were disappointed. We are all a little bit stressed and we don’t want to be in this situation, but now we must be together and help each other,” he said.
“To go on from this, we must be clear that something is not like it should be. This is a fact but we must be together. It is not the time to have any kind of anger. Only positivity. The sooner you realise this, the sooner you can expect something.”