Joel Pereira has called for a strong reaction from Hearts following Saturday’s 3-0 capitulation at Kilmarnock. The club’s next assignment is Sunday’s trip to face Rangers at Ibrox and goalkeeper Pereira insisted that the correct response is vital, starting with himself.
Managerless Hearts sit joint-bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership as a result of the defeat in Ayrshire, with all three Kilmarnock goals coming inside the first 16 minutes. Pereira will first look in the mirror after conceding eight times in the last three matches but he also wants a defiant retort from team-mates.
“The first one I blame is myself,” said the Manchester United loanee. “I always look at myself when the result hasn’t been great. We just need to look at the game again together and discuss what went wrong. Then we will have a clearer idea.
“Obviously it’s frustrating as a goalkeeper. Conceding goals is never good and you always want a clean sheet. In the last three games we have lost eight and that is a bit frustrating. I just need to work harder. I will have a look at myself, what went wrong and what I could do better – as I always do. I want to do better so hopefully this weekend will be better for us.
“Kilmarnock was a bad day for everyone involved with the club. It was tough but we have to keep our heads up because we have a big game coming this weekend. We need to look at Saturday, see what we did wrong, what we need to improve on and start to work towards the upcoming games.
“We need to do a lot better than Saturday and we know it. We know this isn’t good enough and we need a reaction from everyone. We need to put our full focus on the next few games and work harder than ever.”
Austin MacPhee is the interim manager at Tynecastle Park whilst owner Ann Budge seeks a permanent replacement for Craig Levein. Pereira stressed that the situation cannot be used as an excuse because it is not a distraction for the squad.
“I don’t think so. We have worked with Austin and I think he has great ideas. He has a good plan. I think he needs time to settle the plan but I think he is a good manager. We shouldn’t be worried about [not having a permanent manager] too much.
“Other people, like the owner, are dealing with the situation. Our focus is on the manager just now, which is Austin. We are not worried about what is coming up.”
Nor has the goals-against column in recent weeks affected Pereira’s confidence. “I am someone with confidence,” he stated. “When things don’t go well, I like to have a good reaction. Saturday was a bad result so I will look to react with a good attitude this weekend. Hopefully it is a better performance from myself and the team against Rangers.”
Hearts defender Michael Smith questioned certain players’ mentality on these pages yesterday when discussing the display at Kilmarnock. Pereira explained why a strong mindset is necessary at such a testing time with no manager and sub-standard results.
“It’s part of football, you know those things happen and you need to be prepared,” he said. “If you are not ready for those moments then you don’t belong at this level. We need to sort this out, see what’s wrong and put it right. We want to improve. “We want to get back to where we belong because I know we are capable of a lot more than what we are showing at the moment.” Supporters would likely agree with that.
Pereira has been impressed by the dedication and passion of the Hearts fans since arriving in Edinburgh in August and implored them to stick by the team.
“I would ask them to continue to support us as always. I know it is a tough moment for them, as it is for us. I would just ask them to have a positive attitude when they come to see us and continue to support us. Hopefully we will be able to give them what they deserve because they have been amazing.”