Steven Naismith reveals thoughts on Daniel Stendel, why Hearts need to attack and why players must wake up
Striker aware of Stendel's work and what he would bring to Tynecastle
Daniel Stendel’s penchant is for aggressive, attacking football. Steven Naismith, the Hearts striker, feels his club need to seize the initiative in matches, so the German seems like a perfect fit for Tynecastle Park right now.
Hearts sit joint-bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership entering Sunday’s match with Rangers at Ibrox and Naismith acknowledged the need for improvement. Talks with Stendel are ongoing four weeks since Craig Levein was sacked, and the Edinburgh club are in need of galvanising.
“He [Stendel] did a good job at Barnsley. For one reason or another, he moved on from there,” Naismith told the Evening News. “Like a lot of people who have been linked with the job, you naturally take an interest in them and work out what they want. You are intrigued to see what the new manager could bring and what you could learn from him.
“With every manager I’ve gone to, that’s the biggest thing. No matter who comes in, I hope it’s someone I can learn from. I hope it pushes us much further forward as a club because we are miles from where we need to be.”
The style of play Stendel implemented at former clubs Barnsley and Hannover 96 would certainly find favour with those who frequent Gorgie. “At Hearts, there are a lot of games when you can be attacking. I think you need to be,” said Naismith. “If people are talking about challenging for Europe, you need to take the initiative in a high percentage of games and go on the front foot. You have to impose your style on the game rather than put fires out because of the other team.
“Whichever manager comes in, they will need an element of that because it’s what the fans expect. When you are looking to get third place, you need to be that team. I think that is going to be a given.
“Any manager who comes in will have fundamental points. That’s your identity as a coach. Outwith that, the top teams like Aberdeen, Hibs, etc, will all do a lot of the same things to get that third place. It’s just the small detail. A lot of it is down to recruitment as well.”
Naismith and his colleagues must wait to learn who the Hearts owner Ann Budge appoints. A 3-0 Betfred Cup semi-final loss to Rangers, a 5-2 win over St Mirren and a 3-0 defeat at Kilmarnock under interim manager Austin MacPhee have taken place since Levein’s dismissal.
Naismith warned that some members of the Riccarton dressing room are in danger of playing their way out of the new manager’s plans.
“Some players will want a manager who is very defensive-minded, some will want an attack-minded manager. The one thing is that the players will need to have a wake-up call. Everybody who is in for this job will have been watching everything that has happened at this club since the previous manager left.
"They are naive to think the new manager is just going to walk in on day one and say: ‘Right everybody, first day, let’s do this.’ He will have a perception of what he thinks the players are like because he will have done a bit of research. The players need to realise that because, in a short period of time, they could be way out of the picture.”