Steven Naismith: I'll thrive on Rangers abuse but I didn't join Hearts for a relegation fight

Striker says everyone is to blame as he prepares for testing Ibrox trip

Friday, 29th November 2019, 9:13 am
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 9:13 am

Steven Naismith plans to thrive on abuse from Rangers fans this weekend but admitted he did not join Hearts for a relegation battle.

He remains unpopular at Ibrox after his exit in 2012. However, of far greater concern is Hearts’ predicament at the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership.

“I didn’t come here for a relegation fight but we are all to blame. We have time to rectify that,” said the striker. “There is uncertainty not having a manager and subconsciously everybody around the club will be on edge because change could happen. The short-term goal is to get through these games in December and pick up points then reflect come the winter break.

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Steven Naismith can expect to be in the thick of it against Rangers

“We have loads of work to do to build momentum. If you aren’t too far from the pack at Christmas, there is still half a season to go. The biggest thing we have right now is time to make it right. We aren’t clinging to straws to stay in the division but it’s easy saying it. You need to do it.”

Naismith explained that being jeered by Rangers fans often drives him on. Supporters in Govan still hold a grudge after he left to join Everton after their club was liquidated seven years ago.

“You just get used to it and it doesn’t bother me. If anything, you kind of thrive on it a bit. You enjoying knowing that, the better you do in the game, the more wound up other people are going to get. That probably drives me to an extent in games,” he said.

“For most teams outside the Old Firm, the biggest thing you can do when you go there is frustrate them – frustrate them and control the ball when you can.

“I just need to play games, that’s the stage I’m at. Come the end of the game, if I’ve had a taxing match and it’s been quite tough on me, then it might be time to take me off for the last part. Overall, I need to play.”