ROBBIE NEILSON is demanding better concentration from Hearts but is confident they are ready to bounce back against Kilmarnock.
Three successive league defeats culminated in Aberdeen’s 3-1 win at Tynecastle on Sunday. Neilson has ordered his players to learn the harsh lessons of top-flight football ahead of tomorrow’s League Cup third-round tie at Rugby Park.
The head coach was unhappy with his team’s defending at the weekend and wants a drastic improvement at Kilmarnock. Aberdeen punished Hearts three times and led 3-0 at half-time. Neilson brought his players into Riccarton yesterday to pore over footage of that match and identify what went wrong.
“Going into big games where there are big expectations, we have to learn to handle it,” he said. “Last season, we could get away with not being switched on all through the game. Now we need to be bang on it all the time. I have 100 per cent confidence in the players. They are good players. They just need to realise they need to be on it all the time.
“I was really disappointed with our defending on Sunday. Teams shouldn’t be coming to Tynecastle and scoring three easy goals like that. It will come eventually but we need to look at the here and now. We have a hard game tomorrow night so we need to be bang on it. If we switch off again like that, we’ll get punished.
“If you make mistakes at this level, you get punished. If you don’t make the right decisions, you suffer for it. That’s what’s happened to us. Sometimes the best thing in football is when you get beat. It gives you a chance to look at it and say: ‘Right, this is what we need to do.’ We need to look at a couple of things but we’re not far off.
“We came in yesterday morning, we watched the video of the Aberdeen match and we got prepared for Kilmarnock. We’re ready to go again. We’ll work hard, do the right things and make sure we’re switched on. The players are all big boys now. They know that, when you lose games, that’s it. Confidence comes from within. They are confident players and they will be ready to go again tomorrow night.”