Steven MacLean admitted today he is loving silencing critics of his move to Hearts.
The 35-year-old scored on his league debut in Saturday’s 4-1 opening Premiership victory at Hamilton to claim his third goal in four competitive outings for his new club.
He is also proving he has no problems playing on astroturf despite being left out whenever former club St Johnstone played on synthetic pitches. Two of his four Hearts appearances have been on astro, at Cove Rangers and Hamilton, and MacLean scored on both occasions.
He explained today that he is relishing ramming people’s words down their throats with some Scottish vernacular. “People were always going to be sceptical about the move given my age. I knew what I could do,” he said.
“I like it when people write you off. It’s quite a good thing if you’ve got a bit about yourself. As an old friend of mine, Steven Anderson, used to say: ‘Get it up them.’
“I think that’s a good Scottish saying, isn’t it? You just want to try and get it up them. It does motivate you. When people write you off, you either go under or you don’t. If you’ve got a wee cheeky grin about you, then you think: ‘I’m going to show him’.”
MacLean stressed he wants to play every week for Hearts after being kept off plastic pitches for years at St Johnstone. Manager Tommy Wright was concerned about MacLean’s previous injury problems. “It was probably about four years ago I last played on one for them,” recalled the striker.
“I used to go to the games and watch and it used to do my head in. You just support the boys. I was fine after playing at Cove Rangers and hopefully I’m fine again this week. There are no problems just now.
“There will be games when he [Levein] will leave me out and I’ll probably not be happy. That’s a good thing. I think it’s about how you react to it. I will still be there helping my team-mates, wanting them to win. Then hopefully I get my chance again.”
MacLean scored Hearts’ fourth goal at the weekend after they recovered from Mickael Miller’s opener for Hamilton. Peter Haring quickly headed the equaliser before three goals in 13 second-half minutes blew the hosts away.
“Coming from a goal behind shows the mentality we have,” said MacLean. “We were 1-0 down and won 4-1 at a place where a lot of teams come unstuck.
“I’m enjoying my football and it’s great seeing 2,600 fans there supporting us. We were outstanding for 20 minutes in the second half and gave them something to shout about.”
MacLean stressed he feels fitter now than he did earlier in his career. “I played in England for ten years and had a lot of injuries. As you get older, you look after yourself better and you learn how to play the game. I wasn’t the biggest or strongest and I knew how I could effect games differently in England.
“I brought it with me up here and since I’ve been up the road I think I’ve got a lot fitter. Tommy Wright helped me with that at St Johnstone and I’ve taken it on here. The little things they do at Hearts, they look after you. Young lads here don’t know how lucky they’ve got it. This is a right good club.”