Steven MacLean: Daniel Stendel is watching - we are playing for our Hearts futures
Experienced striker warns team-mates new manager will already be forming opinions
Hearts striker Steven MacLean has warned team-mates they are playing for their futures ahead of Daniel Stendel's appointment as manager. The experienced MacLean said the squad must battle their way out of a relegation dogfight whilst trying to impress the incoming German coach.
Wednesday night's 1-1 draw with Livingston at Tynecastle Park lifted Hearts off the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership thanks to MacLean's 88th-minute equaliser. He advised colleagues to raise their game, for Stendel will be watching with his arrival delayed whilst Hearts and former club Barnsley dispute compensation.
Confirmation of his appointment is expected next week and MacLean feels some Hearts players' futures are already at stake. "I'm sure, when the new manager comes in, he'll be watching Wyscout and whatever else. People are playing for their futures," he said.
The 37-year-old is one of several squad members out of contract at the end of the season. "If players think they aren't playing for their futures just now, it's a lie. The potential new manager will be watching the games from afar.
"He will watch them on Wyscout and he will see what he wants and take it from there - whether there's a clean slate when he comes in or not. You are playing for your future already before he even comes in. The boys will know that. We have to stick together, work hard and try to get points because we are at the wrong end of the table.
"We are in a dogfight just now and we need to try and get ourselves out of it. I think we realise that. We're down there for a reason. Until we get further up the table, we are in a dogfight and that's what it is. We have to roll our sleeves up. We have to go to Motherwell on Saturday looking to take three points and keep going from there. Until we're further up the table, it's a dogfight."
Hearts sit one point off the bottom heading to Fir Park, where interim manager Austin MacPhee is likely to continue in charge. It is hoped Stendel will arrive next week if the compensation issue is resolved and MacLean is happy to offer him advice if asked.
"I'm just going on reports of what everybody else has seen. He looks good and he wants to play high-tempo," said the forward. "Until he comes in, you can't really comment. It will happen when it happens. As players, we will just be professional about it. When he comes in, I'm sure he will judge the squad and look forward to what he wants to do.
"My advice will be staying a secret between me and him. If he asks me then I will say something but, until that happens, I'm not going to comment. I've worked under a lot of different managers and they all have their own thoughts. I'll wait till he comes in and then judge it off that.
"The appointment will be made when Ann [Budge], the owner, does what she does. We have to be professional, get into our work, recover, look towards Motherwell and do our jobs."
Wednesday night's result left fans disappointed as Hearts extended their recent run to one win in ten games. Supporters jeered and booed during the performance against Livingston. "That's what happens when you're at Tynecastle and you're not winning games. Fans show their frustrations and it's up to us to try and turn it round," said MacLean.
"It's hard as players but we have to work hard. I think they probably appreciate that we went right to the end. If we could have turned Wednesday's result into a win then the fans would be with us for Saturday. If we can go to Motherwell, play well and take the lead, I'm sure the away fans will be with us again. We need performances on the park and the fans will come with us.
"I thought we started the game really well and should have been two or three up. Then Livingston scored with their first attack. It was a bad goal from our point of view and it sort of rocked us a bit. We dug in and came back. We kept going to the end but it was difficult because they sat in and defended their box well.
"One ball broke and I put it in. In the end, it's a good point for us. We obviously need to be winning games like that but it shows our character. We are still together, we're working hard and we will keep fighting. We will go to Motherwell on Saturday and try to get three points."