GARY LOCKE today advised Hearts to learn the harsh lessons of Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Fir Park, citing slack defending and the lack of a competitive edge for his team’s defeat.
The manager believes the result is a wake-up call for his players after some encouraging league form in recent weeks.
Hearts arrived in Lanarkshire in confident mood following two wins and two draws in their last five league outings. However, they met Motherwell in irresistible form and suffered a comprehensive defeat inspired by former Scotland forward James McFadden. Locke believes the game should give his team a jolt as they enter the final stages of the season 20 points adrift at the foot of the Scottish Premiership. He was especially unhappy with the work rate shown by his team.
“We’ve done okay recently. We certainly weren’t getting carried away but this is maybe a wee lesson for us,” he said. “You’ve got to work hard in every game if you’re going to get anything. The boys have been brilliant for us but this was a lesson in the sense that you’re not just going to get to play football all the time. A lot of games in this league are decided by the team that works hardest.
“On Saturday, we were second to the ball too many times and we didn’t get up on the ball. When we had chances to put the ball in the box, we didn’t do it. When Motherwell got into dangerous areas they put good balls into the box. That caused us a lot of problems and that made the difference.”
Brad McKay was replaced by Dale Carrick at half-time but to little avail. “At half-time, we had to try and get the ball forward quicker. We had a lot of possession in the first half but we were really just passing square or backwards,” explained Locke. “The pitch wasn’t great and I felt Motherwell adapted far better to the conditions. We need to defend better for the goals as well. It wasn’t just the back four I wasn’t happy with. Defensively, as a team, we didn’t defend well enough. The first goal was a poor one for us to lose. They played a couple of one-twos, we didn’t go with runners and they got right through the heart of our defence. The second goal is a great strike but we could close it down quicker.
“The third and fourth goals were disappointing, especially the fourth. We were caught out not picking up in the box which is just down to switching off. We need to make sure we don’t get back into those habits because we haven’t been doing that recently.