Hearts' gameplan revealed as management change approach for upcoming matches

Hearts will prioritise a more competitive approach over tactics as they try to find a more consistent performance level in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 6:00 am
Uche Ikpeazu's competitive spirit will be important to Hearts over the coming weeks

Frustrations within the club sitting tenth in the Ladbrokes Premiership remain strong despite Sunday’s encouraging 1-1 draw with Rangers at Tynecastle Park.

Hearts’ record shows just one win from nine league games so far and merely two home Premiership victories since January. In an effort to remedy the situation, manager Craig Levein and his coaching staff will now focus their gameplan around the team’s competitive edge.

“Our inconsistency has been quite frustrating, as you can imagine,” Levein told the Evening News. “We need to get a level of performance that is acceptable on a week in, week out basis. There have been very few games where I could point the finger at the players for not giving everything they’ve got. I think we have been suffering from a lack of confidence in certain matches.

“I think we need to get back to just winning the fight in every game before we start playing. The concentration will be more on the competitive side of it, rather than tactical, for the time being.”

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Injuries to a number of key players hindered the Edinburgh club last season and the same scenario has been repeated since the current campaign began. That alone is not being used as an excuse for indifferent form.

Hearts beat Hibs at Easter Road and eliminated Aberdeen from the Betfred Cup in addition to the draw with Rangers. However, they have failed to beat Kilmarnock, Motherwell, Hamilton and Ross County at home this term.

Levein admitted reasons for the inconsistency are not easy to pinpoint but he is eager to find the core of a settled team as soon as possible.

“I really don’t know. Chopping and changing all the time has not helped,” he said. “We are going to need to make changes again this weekend with Jake [Mulraney] being out and that frustrates me. Not having consistency of selection for a while now is irritating. So there are a number of things contributing to the inconsistency.”

Focusing more on a more combative approach should favour the likes of Australian midfielder Oliver Bozanic. His energy and dynamism were evident as he returned to the starting line-up against Rangers. He could see more game time in forthcoming matches against Livingston and St Johnstone as Hearts try to find that consistent winning formula.

“I think the important thing is that we try to get back to just the competing side of things and if we win 1-0 with a scrappy performance, so be it. It will need to be more about that,” stated Levein. “Sometimes we are concentrating on patterns of play and what we are trying to do with the ball.

“I’m really looking for ways of bringing us more consistency which are easy to translate to the players. I’m trying to just keep everything simple, not confuse anybody, and try to see if we can compete for every ball in every situation. If that helps us, then so be it.”