Hearts coach Steven Naismith details talks with Rangers manager Philippe Clement

Tynecastle boss is grateful for the insight of his Ibrox counterpart

Hearts head coach Steven Naismith admitted talks with his Rangers counterpart Philippe Clement have been beneficial ahead of Saturday's meeting between the clubs at Ibrox. Clement has won all three games against Naismith's side but the Tynecastle manager enjoyed the 49-year-old Belgian's insight during post-match discussions.

Naismith is confident he knows what to expect from Rangers as Hearts travel to Glasgow looking to increase their impressive 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions. Clement has lost only one of his 26 games in charge at Ibrox, which came against Celtic in December. "I don’t think they will change from what they’ve done in every game. The manager doesn’t change, he’s got the way he wants to play and I imagine that will be the same again," said the Hearts coach, who spent five years as a Rangers player between 2007 and 2012.

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"It will be tough for us, they are in form and the manager has definitely come in and put his marker on everything. You see that in their performances, how he deals with. players, how honest he is. That’s the type of manager you need at a club like Rangers. That’s why the results have been so good. We know what we will face but for us it’s about continuing what we’ve done. How we focus on every game. That’s how we believe we will get a result."

Naismith outlined his talks with Clement in relation to his own belief that Hearts would progress despite inconsistent results earlier this season. "I’ve got a good belief in what I want to do and what I think we can achieve. I’m realistic," he added. "We’ve come up against his Rangers side three times and he has been a good, older manager for someone like myself. He’s approachable, gives you the time and speaks to you. For any young manager that’s gold. There’s so much value in it. His teams show his character. That’s for us to deal with and to think about how we can hurt them."

Hearts beat Celtic 2-0 in Glasgow in December to begin the aforementioned 12-game run. It was a result which harnessed confidence for an extremely prosperous winter in Gorgie. "That probably comes with the mentality. When I was a player [at Tynecastle] there was rarely times we went to Celtic Park or Ibrox with a real belief and optimism that you could get a result.

"I identified from the off that needed to change. How does it change? We drew at Ibrox last season, we won at Celtic Park this season and are really close to a win at Ibrox earlier this season. So doing the work before those games. Getting through them and getting the results we did and the performances we did brings belief. That’s where we sit at the moment."

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Hearts led 1-0 on their previous visit to Ibrox in October before losing goals in the 90th and 93rd minute. "The small margins is what killed us last time," stated Naismith. "That could be the same this time, we could play unbelievably well but one moment costs us. Will we win, draw, lose? Who knows but what we will do is go with a fight, desire and concentration of what we need to do. We’ve shown there’s a concentration with us now and that’s a mentality shift."

Andrew McKinlay, the Hearts chief executive, last year publicly bemoaned the team's failure to perform better against Rangers and Celtic. Naismith is cautious about overstating the recent good form but is convinced about the change in mindset within his group. He feels Hearts have got closer to the Premiership's top two.

"Whether results-wise shows that over this season, I think we have. It goes back to the mentality shift – that’s the biggest thing. In both games against the Old Firm where they have a bigger budget, the demands are of winning the league and what they carry is one thing, but then the pressure of playing at home.

"Our last two games against Motherwell and St Johnstone have effectively been the exact same game. Both teams have sat really deep and tried to counter us, one was at home and one was away, that is what we are now facing. That mentality change is just as important as trying to compete and beat the Old Firm in a game. I think we will look back at the end of the season and see where we are but there has definitely been a shift in that. Our belief and understanding of the game has changed from the summer. 

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"I think when you play at Ibrox and Celtic Park, we’ve got the same demand at home. Our crowd is demanding and if we are not winning by half-time we know what the feeling can be. It’s the same there. We will reference it but ultimately that is not going to get us the win. It’s how we do on the pitch, what we do with the ball and how we go about defending and how organised we are off the ball. It is something there that can be useful if it turns out that way."

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