The Hearts midfielder is bristling with frustration, perhaps even anger, in the wake of Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Dundee. He was substituted at half-time and openly admits his performance was somewhat short of the level required.
He was not alone, particularly in an insipid first half when Dundee’s aggression overwhelmed the away side and helped them build a 2-0 interval advantage. The lack of a response was the most conspicuous aspect of Hearts’ display in the opening 45 minutes.
Haring was replaced by Andy Irving at half-time and admitted he had no grounds to complain about manager Robbie Neilson’s decision.
‘I need to deal with it’
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“I was one of them who wasn’t good enough in the first half. That’s not my standard, the standard I demand from myself. I need to deal with it, work hard and react,” said the 27-year-old Austrian, speaking exclusively to the Evening News.
He has started Hearts’ last two matches but found himself among the substitutes for the previous four. Irregular game time is something he must adapt to given midfield competition at Tynecastle Park, particularly during a congested period of fixtures.
Asked to pinpoint the reason for Saturday’s disappointment, Haring replied: “I think it’s just normal in football. You have days when you are just not at your best and things don’t go your way.
“The situation at the moment is that I’m not playing regularly so I have to get used to that. I have to work hard on myself every day in training to find my form again and get to the standard I used to play.”
Thankfully, niggling injuries are not a factor. Well-documented pelvic issues and hernia surgeries sidelined Haring for 16 months between May 2019 and September 2020, but he has now put those problems behind him.
“I had a small hamstring issue but that was a few weeks ago. At the moment, I’m feeling totally fine. It’s just game time and hard work on the training pitch that will bring me back to my best,” he explained.
Too late a reaction
The 3-1 loss at Dens Park in many ways mirrored Hearts’ 2-1 defeat at Dunfermline in November. The hosts began the match aggressively and pressed their guests back, seizing a crucial advantage.
“The reaction was too little too late despite Irving scoring in the second half after taking Haring’s place in midfield. “I think we lost the game in the first half. It was just not good enough – not enough intensity in our game,” admitted Haring.
“The way Dundee played is the way many more teams will try to play against us. We have to compete better and deal with it better.”
Dundee’s energy seemed to catch Hearts slightly off guard as captain Charlie Adam influenced the game from midfield, setting both goals in the first half. “No, we knew what was going to happen in the first half. We were just not up to it, to be honest,” said Haring candidly.
“The second half was much better and we had a few chances to make it 2-2. Unfortunately, we missed them and then there was a penalty against us. After that the game was done.
“We have to accept the result. We can’t change it, so now we must bounce back in the coming weeks.”
In terms of aggression and tenacity, it won’t get much easier over the coming weeks. Hearts’ visit the winners of Camelon versus Brora Rangers in the Scottish Cup second round, and there are vital league fixtures against Dunfermline, Alloa and Raith Rovers [twice] before January is finished.
The club’s ultimate ambition, as stated many times by manager Robbie Neilson, is to win the Championship title and gain automatic promotion back to the Premiership.
Another run in the Scottish Cup is also coveted after reaching the final of the delayed 2019/20 tournament just over two weeks ago. There will be new signings brought in before the winter window closes to help realise those aims.
Nonetheless, it is incumbent on the existing squad to react properly to Saturday’s defeat in the first instance. The manner of it in particular left many fans watching on television unhappy.
Room for improvement
“We maybe thought that Dunfermline was a wake-up but I hope we are going to react in the same way. We won the next game 3-0 so we are looking forward to the next few games,” said Haring.
Neilson is still in the infancy of his second managerial stint at Tynecastle. He brought in eight new faces prior to the start of the campaign and more will be required both this month and during the summer.
If Hearts return to the top flight of Scottish football, they will want a strong squad able to compete in the upper echelons of the division. It is very much a work in progress for all concerned and players are aware that they are playing for places every week.
“Yeah, definitely. The gaffer is only in a few months and there is always room for improvement,” said Haring. “There are days like Saturday when things are not going easily but I think you have to respond in a better way than we did.
“You have to deal with those situations maybe smarter, maybe change some things on the pitch. We were just not good enough at doing that. That’s why we lost the game.”