Steven Naismith gives his view on Hibs and reveals Hearts team selection issues as a key player returns

The visit to Paisley could see a well-known face back in maroon

Part of Edinburgh is abuzz with chatter regarding a new Hibs manager following Nick Montgomery’s sacking. He paid the price for a run of only four league wins since December, leaving the Easter Road club hunting a sixth new head coach in five years. Across the Capital at Hearts, there is an element of resignation about the whole affair.

Tynecastle Park is preparing to host European league-stage football this autumn whilst their city rivals languish in ninth place in the Premiership. However, there is no gloating from Riccarton after Montgomery’s fate was announced early on Tuesday morning.

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“Am I surprised? I probably am. He didn't even get the full season,” said the Hearts head coach, Steven Naismith. “Where the club was when he took over [last September], you could tell it wasn't going to happen overnight. Earlier in the season, people were suggesting I was under pressure. It's the nature of the industry now. I don't think it's right.

"I think we [Hearts] are showing what can happen if you have everybody on the same page. You have everybody inside the club understanding - even when it's not going well - why decisions were made and where you think you can get to. We had that and it has worked out really well for us.

“Managers losing their jobs is the norm now. That's how it feels. No matter the amount of work you do, at no point can you really feel you've got that safety. David Moyes is an example. After what he has done over the last three or four years at West Ham, for them just to shake his hand seems a bit crazy to me. But it's the industry, it's social media, it's everybody needing success right now.”

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Naismith acknowledged that modern-day football management is sometimes about more than just winning. “For some clubs and a lot of fans, that is it. It's this craving for instant success,” he said. “When you see a team getting instant success, straight away it's just categorised as: 'That's us, it's normal, that's what we should do.' I probably learned the most from David Moyes that things take time, things take hard work and, if you do that, success lasts. It's not an overnight thing or a one-season thing.

"When I went into Everton, you see his imprint on so much. Over time, hopefully we get back to a bit of normality and understanding that managers can get an initial reaction but if you want real success it needs to be deeper than that.”

Hearts finishing third and reaching national cup semi-finals whilst Hibs were floundering may have exacerbated the pressure Montgomery found himself in the eyes of some people. Naismith does not see it that way. “I wouldn't say that how we have grown and been successful has impacted them that much,” he stated. “We beat them in a tight game [at Easter Road in December], you have the natural fallout from that, but I've really just been looking at us. I just want us to be good and win. When a manager comes in a third of the way through a season and loses his job by the end of it, could you say he has had a fair shot at it? I'm not sure he has.”

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Naismith endured an element of criticism earlier this season amid some erratic results in his first managerial job. He gave a candid account of how he got through it. “The board were brilliant,” he explained. “One thing I have been clear since taking over here is that the people who matter in the club, I need to have contact with on a regular basis - whether that's the fans, the players, the staff or the board. I'm not having Chinese whispers. I'll say what I think, I'll tell you why I have made this decision. Whether it is a fan asking a question or a board member, I'll give you my reasons, I've thought through why I made the decisions.

“I was calm in that situation because I knew there was a lot of good stuff happening on the training pitch. in the games, it wasn't free-flowing but we didn't get a doing in many games. It was an individual mistake or one moment we didn't do something right. That gave me a lot of hope.

“I was quite calm and if I am honest I'll be a football manager until the day I am sacked or moved on or had enough. It's not everything in my life that it consumes me. It consumes me day-to-day but it doesn't consume everything about me that I worry about what is going to happen. If I'm honest, I'll do it until the moment I don't.”

The immediate focus is on Hearts’ penultimate game of the season on Wednesday night at St Mirren. One experienced player is returning after hamstring surgery. “Boycie will be back in the squad,” said Naismith of the Northern Irish forward, Liam Boyce. “[Jorge] Grant is ill and hasn't been in today. [Stephen] Kingsley has a wee neuro issue with his back. It's just a wee bit on his hamstring so he won't be involved.

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“It's good to get Boycie back but there hasn't been any pressure. He has worked really hard, he feels good and he brings something different. We probably don't have the same profile as him. He is one of the older guys now, has calmness on the ball and can drop a shoulder to start attacks as well as being a goalscorer. He will be valuable next season and what we get from him this season is just a bonus.

“It gives him the chance to go and work hard and be ready for pre-season. He came into the team during the season and was good after a slow build-up from an injury before. When he got injured it was disappointing because he was really influential for us. This would be a good way to finish, then a break to be ready for a full pre-season.”

Boyce’s reinstatement does not mean a rest for Hearts’ top goalscorer, Lawrence Shankland. “He'll be involved in the last two games, he's chasing 30 goals,” explained Naismith. “It's a three-game week so we will change some players. With goalscorers and guys at the top end of the pitch, a big thing for them is they keep playing. I think the international break last summer set him back a wee bit at the start of the season. He wasn't scoring. You need to persist with your goalscorers. It's a three-game week, we'll see what happens.”

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