Steven Naismith reveals who he consulted before accepting Hearts opportunity
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The 36-year-old texted Neilson when he heard of his sacking and consulted Scotland boss Steve Clark before accepting the opportunity to take charge until the end of the season.
Naismith has expressed his gratitude to the former manager for what he has done to help in his transition from a player to a coach. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him and he made the journey into coaching as easy as it could be for me,” Naismith told the media.
“There’s a massive insecurity that comes when you have a good career and gain respect from that, it’s a strange dynamic when you become a coach because you feel vulnerable, you are not equipped and guys who looked up to you in the past, you’re starting to go, ‘Are they questioning me?’
“The gaffer made it really comfortable for me to just blend in, get comfortable, and he put no pressure on me. What he’s done for the club in the last two, three years – massive strides. Hearts are in Europe. Over time, his success will be appreciated by the fans. Going forward I think people will understand what a good job he’s done.”
The 36-year-old former Scotland and Hearts forward has stepped up from his head coach of the B team until the end of the season and is 3/1 favourite with the bookmakers to land the job permanently. But he isn’t looking any further forward for now.
“In terms of how long that is, I’m only bothered until the summer,” Naismith said. “It’s come early. I don’t know whether I’ll enjoy it to the level I want to, but I do know I want to be a manager.
"I’m in a fantastic role before I took this one up so if I go back to that role, I’ll be delighted. If over the course of this I think I’m ready, I love it, then my opinion might change.”
Naismith told Hearts TV on Wednesday that he feels "well equipped" to take on the challenge, which comes nearly two years after he retired as a player. He initially took charge of the Hearts under-18 team before stepping up to lead the B team in the Lowland League this season.
He has also has been part of Clarke’s coaching staff with the national team and says he has been using the Scotland boss as a “sounding board” to help progress his career.
Confirming that he consulted Clarke before accepting his new interim role at Hearts, Naismith added: “I think I best learn when I'm around good people and see it with my own eyes; I don't need a pep talk. The manager has been great in giving me an opportunity and he's now a sounding board for me.”
Naismith insists he has a “clear plan” to beat Hibs at Easter Road in his first game in charge. He is pleased with the spirit in the group and the quality at his disposal.