Loic Damour: 'Hearts' five-week manager wait is no excuse for being s**t on the pitch'

French midfielder admits it has been harder to prepare for games

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 10:30 pm
Hearts midfielder Loic Damour admits his team's form must improve

Waiting almost five weeks for a new manager has left the Hearts midfielder Loic Damour slightly exasperated. He is not alone. However, the Frenchman acknowledged that the undertainty is not a valid excuse for the wretched form which sees the club joint-bottom of the Premiership entering tonight’s match with Livingston.

Daniel Stendel is close to being appointed more than a month since Craig Levein was relieved of his duties. Damour, who may return to Hearts’ starting line-up tonight, is eager to see a new figurehead in place.

“We’ve waited for too long. It’s been five weeks or something like that, so it’s too long,” he said. “There’s been no information for players, for staff, for everybody. It’s hard when you don’t know. It’s not an excuse to be sh*t on the pitch. I’m not saying that but obviously it’s harder to prepare for games. It’s not ideal so it’s good to feel the situation is changing.

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“It’s my first situation like this. I lost a manager when I was young but not for five weeks. Normally it’s one week maximum.”

Damour joined Hearts on a four-year contract from Cardiff City just four months ago. Having worked to esablish himself under Levein, he must start over again when his successor arrives.

“Every time a new manager comes in it’s a new start for everybody,” said the 28-year-old. “I don’t know if he knows me or some of the other players so it’s a new adventure for everyone – staff, players, even [owner] Ann Budge. The fans as well. Hopefully it goes better than it has been.

“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this kind of start when I came here but it’s another experience for my career. I have been through some difficult moments in the past and this is another one. So I am used to being in hard situations in my career.

“This is the first time anything like this has happened. The manager wants me, I come here then a few months later he leaves.

“I can’t say it’s easy because it’s hard for everyone here but we need to stay together and stay positive and trust ourselves for the future. That’s the only thing we can do. I can’t worry about impressing the new manager. I don’t know if I am going to play or not but if I am the most important thing is I do my job on the pitch. If everyone thinks like that we’ll be fine because we’ll have no regrets.”

Damour did not encounter Stendel’s Barnsley team in England and their paths have yet to cross. Until yesterday morning, he knew very little of the German who is set to take charge at Tynecastle Park once a compensation dispute with former club Barnsley is resolved.

It remains to be seen if Stendel will be in the directors’ box this evening if his appointment is not confirmed at some point before kick-off. Damour is intrigued by his prospective new boss but has some research to do on him.

“To be honest I only knew his name this morning because nobody knows anything in the dressing room about the situation at the club,” said the player. “Before this morning I just knew his name, that he was German, and that he was at Barnsley for a year. But I didn’t play against him.

“I didn’t Google his name. It’s just good to know the name because before this morning I didn’t know. I know his name and know he’s German so I know two things about him now.”

Rejuvenating Hearts would be a considerable task for any manager right now no matter their experience. League points have been difficult to come by and tonight’s opponents have proven notably troublesome in recent seasons.

The last five meetings between Livingston and Hearts have yielded just one win for the Edinburgh club, underlining the dogged and resilient nature of the West Lothian outfit under manager Gary Holt. Their 5-0 win home win against Hearts a year ago remains one of the pinnacles of Holt’s tenure so far and the teams have already played out a goalless draw in Livingston this season.

Some home players may feel extra motivation to impress Stendel this evening, for he will doubtless see footage of the match even if he does not attend in person. Damour is not of a mind to prioritise individuals. He is all about the collective as Hearts try to pull themselves clear of the Premiership’s relegation zone.

“The most important thing in a group situation is you give everything you have got, it doesn’t matter if you play well or not. If you play well it’s good for the team and obviously the future is good for you. But I don’t think I have to impress because a new manager is there, I think that’s the wrong way to prepare for the game.

“It’s always good after a tough game like last Sunday [against Rangers] to play another game so soon, just to try and fix things and forget this game and go forward.

“We need to try and get a good win because we need this win. So yes, we are all focused on this game and trying to forget the last one.”