It’s substance over style for Hearts boss

Robbie Neilson
Robbie Neilson
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Robbie Neilson stressed today that winning the league remains Hearts’ only concern and insisted he is satisfied with the team’s performances in recent weeks.

Although less goals are being scored than earlier in the season, Neilson said he is more than happy with seven wins and a draw from his club’s last eight league matches.

Hearts have netted 15 times during those eight games compared with 24 goals in the previous eight. Injuries to strikers Osman Sow, Soufian El Hassnaoui and Dale Carrick have been a major factor in the reduction. Neilson believes performance levels remain high and is content to see his team continue collecting points regardless of performance.

Hearts sit 13 points clear of Rangers at the top of the Scottish Championship ahead of this weekend’s fixtures. They travel to Dumbarton on Saturday, where head coach Neilson will again emphasise the target of three points and a continuation of their unbeaten league run.

“I think the performances have still been really good,” he said today. “At the start of the season, our performances were blowing teams out of the water. Now, people have a respect for us so other teams sit in against us and make it really difficult. That can alter the way we need to play.

“Ultimately, football is about winning matches. We all want to win 4-0 and 5-0 but, if teams make it hard and are happy with a 0-0 or even a 1-0 defeat, it’s difficult to break them down four or five times. Although we haven’t been scoring as much as at the start, other teams have to take credit for how they’ve defended against us.

“People have spoken about us hitting a wee dip in form but we’re still on a run of seven wins and a draw from our last eight league games. If we continue that for the rest of the season, I’ll be delighted.

“The fans understand it’s about winning the league, that’s it. Ultimately, that’s what we want to do, we want to win the league. We didn’t start the season saying, ‘we want to play fantastic football but we’re not bothered about going up’. We wanted to do both. Winning the league is the main thing for us and we’re in a good situation, although there is still a long way to go.

“Winning football matches takes many different things – different tactics, different players etc. You just need to make sure you’re winning games. That’s it. The game against Hibs at the weekend was a great point for us. It keeps Hibs 19 points behind us and keeps our momentum going because we still have our unbeaten run.

“If we get to the end of the season and we win the league, then all these games are added up whether it’s a point or three points.”