Steven Naismith makes style of play pledge as interim Hearts boss
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The 36-year-old former club captain insists his team will play “on the front foot” in the seven games remaining this season and confirmed that the immediate response he has had from the squad over the last couple of days has been “really good”.
In an interview with Hearts TV, Naismith described his relationship and the support he is receiving from Frankie McAvoy and Gordon Forrest as a “very good combination”. He also saluted Robbie Neilson’s achievements as manager and called on the fans to get behind the team so that everyone is “pulling in the same direction”.
Naismith has been overseeing the Hearts B team in the Lowland League this season and is also part of Steve Clark’s coaching staff with Scotland. He admits the opportunity to step up and take charge of the first team at Tynecastle came far quicker than he anticipated but he is not fazed by the challenge in front of him.
“The feeling is one of immense pride,” he said. “It’s a situation as a young coach going into management, it’s a fantastic opportunity. Did I ever expect it to come so quickly? Probably not, but since stepping into coaching, there’s been a rapid rise in terms of experience.
“I took the leads on the 18s when John Rankin left, then the B team, and then being involved with the national team. I’ve crammed a lot into my time being a coach. I’ve learned a lot, and I feel that I’m well-equipped for the upcoming couple of months that there are going to be.”
Hearts fans have been calling for a more attacking style of play and Naismith has promised to deliver just that, but warned that it is far easier to say than it is to actually deliver on the pitch in a league as competitive as the Scottish Premiership.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned since joining Hearts, is that there’s a demand at the club,” he added. “It’s got to be a good demand, and the players have got to enjoy that. The fans want attacking football. They want a team that goes into every game trying to win it. Not one that’s going to defend and hold out for a draw or a 1-0 lead.
“I was like that as a player; I wanted to be on the front foot and enjoyed having the ball and creating opportunities. I want play entertaining football. That’s easy to say, and harder to implement on the training pitch and in games, but that’s what I want. I’m not naïve to think that this is going to be easy, but I want us to be a team that takes games by the scruff of the neck.”
Naismith admitted he is just as demanding as a coach as he was as a player, but said the first-team squad who he has worked with before have been helping the other players understand his character and that he has been “working on the dos and don’ts to start with.”