Talking point: Steven Naismith's 90 minutes and why he is a future Hearts manager

Steven Naismith is a crucial component for Hearts. Joel Sked followed his performance against St Johnstone closely.

Saturday, 26th January 2019, 8:28 pm
Updated Saturday, 26th January 2019, 9:45 pm
Steven Naismith is a totem at Hearts.

This talking point could have been about any number of players or aspects of Hearts' performance in the 2-0 win over St Johnstone. John Souttar's immaculate return; academy products Marcus Godinho and Callumn Morrison scoring their first goals for the club; or Jake Mulraney's improvement.

But it is simply too difficult to avoid the presence of Steven Naismith in the Hearts team.

This writer became transfixed with the forward from the offset. The game meandered rather than flowed. It was slow, ponderous and not great fun to watch. By Naismith's reaction it wasn't much fun to play in either.

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With David Vanecek dropped the 32-year-old was stationed in attack as the lone striker, supported by Sean Clare and Olly Lee.

With the crowd rarely breaking into more than a murmur and lull after lull in the opening stages every word Naismith was saying could be picked up.

Barely five minutes were on the clock when he had turned and bellowed at his team-mates to "start getting f***ing sharper". It was followed moments later by him bemoaning the lack of central figure in midfield as he demanded everything be done at a quicker pace.

By the 34 moments he was past the point of frustration as he saw his colleagues mull over a free-kick deep in the Hearts half. He stood with his head in his hands.

It was fascinating viewing of a player who throughout the match talked, shouted, demanded, encouraged and coached his team-mates. There is no malice, just standards. This is a manager in the making.

But he was right to be frustrated. Hearts did not get off to a quick start and the team were taking too long to involve Naismith, playing easier passes rather than trying to find him quicker with more confident passes forward.

Naismith does a fine job as the focal point at the top of the team. But it nullifies many of his qualities which come to the fore when played in a deeper role in support of a central striker. It allows him to pick up the ball deeper, quicken Hearts' play.

Moments before half-time he bellowed at Oliver Bozanic to pass the ball, and to do it quicker. He is in essence a Hearts fan on the pitch. The Tynecastle support want the football played at tempo and to go forward.

It was better after half-time as Sean Clare played closer to Naismith and more as a partner. He had someone to work off.

It wasn't a vintage Naismith performance, not by a long way, but once again highlighted that he brings much more to the team than his goalscoring ability.

There is a reason he has only been on the losing side in three of his 20 Hearts appearances this season. And why Hearts have lost six of the 11 games he has missed.

He linked play well and had a hand in the second goal, but the fact he is constantly in the ear of every team-mate, making sure they are alert and not slacking, is crucial. He has that respect which allows him to do it.

Following his movements closely through a game, you can see a manager in the making. A future Hearts manager at that.