Steven Naismith explains how the interim new coaching structure will work at Hearts
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McAvoy and Forrest are part of the interim structure at the Tynecastle following the sacking of Robbie Neilson on Sunday, with assistant manager Lee McCulloch following the former manager out of the exit door the following day.
Naismith was a player at Norwich City when McAvoy was assistant boss and the pair have worked closely since the former Preston North End manager joined Hearts in February 2022 as academy director. Naismith has been a key part of that too, managing the under-18s initially and taking charge of the B team this season.
McAvoy was an academy coach at Dunfermline Athletic before taking up the same role at Hamilton Academical. He was promoted to first team coach at Hamilton and then followed Alex Neil to Norwich and subsequently Preston.
“I’ve got good relationships with them both,” Naismith said of McAvoy and Forrest. “I know Frankie well: he was assistant manager during my time at Norwich City and got on really well during that time. We’ve worked together very closely since he came in as academy director. Frankie’s got a wealth of experience in the game from being a manager, being an assistant, and he’s someone who sees the game differently to me. That’s a strong point, because he’ll see things that I sometimes don’t.”
Forrest followed Neilson from Hearts to Dundee United, along with McCulloch, in the summer of 2020, prompting speculation among supporters that he would also be on his way out. But Naismith is pleased to be working with him for the rest of the season after striking up a good relationship.“Gordon and I are very similar in loads of aspects,” said Naismith. “Preparation, training, set-up, and delivery. How we want the game to be played. Gordy’s got a real enthusiasm for the game and I’m learning from him. I’ve leaned on him a lot since I’ve been in my job.
“It’s a very good combination for us all and we’ll do all we can. The hours we’ll work, doing what’s required to get the players ready for the games every week. We’re in a very good place on that front.”