Jake Mulraney admits new Hearts manager has no time to bed in
Edinburgh club need results during a frantic run of games in December
Jake Mulraney feels incoming Hearts manager Daniel Stendel has a huge opportunity to revitalise the Edinburgh club but warned that he has precious little time. Tonight’s Premiership match with Livingston is the second of eight in December and, should Stendel’s appointment be confirmed, the German will be thrust into the middle of a frenetic period.
He could be in the Tynecastle Park directors’ box this evening to watch his potential new squad in action. Hearts then travel to Motherwell on Saturday before further fixtures against St Johnstone, Celtic, Hamilton, Hibs and Aberdeen.
Their manager search nearing a conclusion, Mulraney acknowledged that there may not be much opportunity for Stendel to impose his own philosophy quickly at Hearts. The Edinburgh club sit joint-bottom of the league table right now and badly need points between now and the winter shutdown at the end of the month.
“A few names have come up but I know Stendel is the top man for it, isn’t he?” said the Irishman.
“There are eight games this month so it’s not like he has a lot of time. There isn’t an international break where he has a bit time to feed his style of play into us or get a bit of an understanding.
“I think we will just get snippets because we will only have two or three days of training in between the games most of the time. We will be looking for results, results and more results. Maybe after the Christmas break we will have more of an understanding of how he wants us to play and what his style is.”
At former clubs Barnsley and Hannover, Stendel earned a reputation for fast-paced attacking football, centring around an aggressive high- press approach. It is precisely the kind of gameplan Hearts supporters would favour. “The fans want to see that. To be honest, I don’t really know much about his style but I’m sure the boys would love that kind of approach,” admitted Mulraney.
“It’s an underachieving team just now but, if we do get a bit of momentum, with this team, the fanbase and the size of the club, we could just shoot straight up. The fans have largely stayed with us because we’re getting 15,000 and 16,000 at every game. That speaks for itself.”
Almost five weeks have passed since Hearts sacked manager Craig Levein and the search for a replacement has been notably protracted.
“It’s a hard one to speak about. I’d say some people would want a bit of clarity but it’s not really an excuse,” admitted Mulraney. “At the end of the day, it’s us who are on the pitch. We are out there playing and it’s us who have to do the business at the end of the day.”
One win in the last nine matches has dragged Hearts into a relegation battle they did not expect to be embroiled in. Yet there is no question Stendel would inherit a capable squad with a number of experienced international players.
“This is the strongest squad I’ve been a part of by a good bit,” insisted Mulraney. “We have international players, Premier League players, up-and-coming young players so it’s a good group. With this group, we should be right up there. But we’re not. Something needs to click because we are underachieving.
“Morale is okay at the moment. With the gaffer situation, it’s all a bit up in the air. We don’t know who is going to get it. Morale is normally good because we have a good group. We move on from a bad result and focus on the next one.
“It’s a strong dressing room. Results haven’t been great but I’m thinking more about the team than myself at the moment. We want to get back up and running and back into good form. It’s really frustrating.
“I’ve said a million times that we have got the players in the squad to play a lot better than we are. I don’t know what it is but something needs to click.
“We have eight games in December. We have a game three days later to rectify what happened on Sunday against Rangers. Then we have another three days before we play again. If there are any little setbacks, there’s another game right away to get back on it and improve.”
If players are out to impress their prospective new boss tonight, then some things may fall into place. “I’m sure some players will be thinking that. Personally, I just want to do what I can to help the team win. If we set up like we did against St Mirren, then hopefully we get the same type of performance and the same result,” said Mulraney.
The winger scored a spectacular goal in that match, which ended in a 5-2 victory last month. “It was nice to come on and score because it was the first time my new baby, Ella, came to see a game,” he smiled.