'Hearts shouldn't be in this position.' Steven Naismith bemoans European downfall after Rangers draw at Ibrox
Interim Hearts manager Steven Naismith admitted the Edinburgh club only have themselves to blame after Aberdeen secured third place in the Premiership. There were many positives from Hearts’ 2-2 draw with Rangers at Ibrox, however they must content themselves with fourth spot if they avoid defeat to Hibs this weekend.
“It’s disappointing but the club were 11 points clear [of Aberdeen] at one point [earlier this year] and shouldn't be in this position. That is what it is,” explained Naismith after his sixth game in charge of Hearts. “Since I came in we have tried to go give ourselves as good a chance as we can. We have done that but when you are relying on others that is not where you want to be, especially at a club like Hearts.
“You don't want to be relying on others to get you success, we want to do it our way and that is something we have tried to do. In the games I have been in charge of, the amount of soft goals we have conceded has not been good enough. If we don't concede a lot of them we are in a healthier position. The boys have done incredibly well to buy into what we want to do and try to and also get results along the way.”
Lawrence Shankland scored inside the opening minutes to put Hearts 1-0 ahead against Rangers, but Todd Cantwell’s equaliser late in the first half restored parity. Fashion Sakala put the hosts ahead early in the second period and that looked sufficient for three points until the dying seconds.
Hearts substitute Garang Kuol, on loan from Newcastle United since January, forced an attack down the right which ended with him slotting his first goal in maroon past the Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor. The point was not enough to influence the race for third place with Aberdeen, but it will give Hearts confidence and belief heading into a last-day Edinburgh derby with Hibs at Tynecastle.
“It was entertaining,” said Naismith of the match in Glasgow. “We got off to a really good start and for 45 minutes we played really well, disciplined and in the moments we could take control of the game we did. We gave away a soft goal in which, during that pattern of play, there were a lot of things we could have done better. It cost us we gave Rangers an easy chance to score which they did.
“It is frustrating because for 45 minutes we played well and when we got the ball we were brave enough to play. In the second half, we give away another cheap goal which put us on the back foot but we are brave. We decided to make changes to try to keep us in the game and I felt that, in 90 minutes, we were really good in possession which got us in the final third.
“Maybe our decision-making or finishing could have been better but credit to the players, they continued on and fought and get the point.”