Key to beating Hamilton will be Hearts repeating display against Celtic - Michael Smith
Hearts cannot just turn it on against Old Firm
Michael Smith warned his Hearts team-mates they must replicate the spirit and determination they showed against Celtic if they are to win tomorrow’s bottom-of-the-table showdown with Hamilton Accies in Lanarkshire.
The Tynecastle side lost 2-0 at home to the champions on Wednesday night but were applauded off by their supporters afterwards and widely commended for the way they approached Daniel Stendel’s second match in charge after being heavily criticised following last weekend’s defeat by St Johnstone.
Hearts remain joint-bottom of the Premiership with Accies going into tomorrow’s clash at New Douglas Park and defeat for either side would leave them three points adrift at the foot of the table on Christmas Day. Smith, Hearts’ best player this season, insists it is imperative that the Jambos play with the same passion and intensity this weekend as they displayed in midweek.
“It’s disappointing that we lost but we are starting to show signs of turning into a well-drilled team,” said the influential Northern Irishman. “The Celtic game gives us belief that we can go out there
and do that. We showed determination and spirit but that should be a given for every single one of us players.
“We are not stupid. We know we are down at the bottom of the league and we are in a battle. That’s the minimum we can show every week, even if the quality might not be there yet. We have to battle hard against every team and go for every ball. It’s easy to raise your game for the Old Firm coming into town, but in the other games, it should be easier to do that. We should be up for them. You’ve got to win those games.
“The Hamilton game is massive but we have to go into it with confidence. We want to play on the front foot and get in people’s faces and press from the front.”
Smith believes new manager Daniel Stendel is already starting to influence the way the team is playing. “The manager has come in and he is bringing energy and enthusiasm,” said the Northern Irishman. “We started to show it on the pitch against Celtic. He’s been great. He’s got fresh ideas and we’re all trying to
buy into that. We’re enjoying the training.
It was tough the first week he was in. He’s going to get us fitter for that high press. Everyone is enjoying it, everyone is going to buy into it.
Hopefully results start turning soon.”
The versatile Smith, who has played predominantly in defence this season, performed well in central midfield on Wednesday. It remains to be seen if he will play there again tomorrow as Jamie Brandon, who suffered a first-half foot injury against the champions, is expected to miss out.
“I don’t mind it centre mid,” said Smith.
“I was trying to put myself about a bit, trying to get on the ball a lot more and create a bit. I am not the most cultured centre mid, but I work hard and I give my all in there for the team. I enjoyed it. I think the gaffer has seen in training that I am enthusiastic and I will give my all for the team. I think that’s why he started me in there.”