'We have to be on the front foot and press' - Hearts boss Robbie Neilson on what he wants from his team this season
Goals from Jamie Walker and Craig Halkett handed the Jam Tarts a deserved win over Partick Thistle
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson was satisfied with his team’s performance in the 2-0 friendly win over Partick Thistle on Saturday at Tynecastle Park.
It was the latest friendly for the Championship favourites as they step up their preparations for the start of the 2020/21 campaign next month.
With no fans in attendance for the foreseeable future, Neilson wants his team to get used to playing in what is an unusual environment.
“I thought we did well,” he said. “The first 60 or 70 minutes was good but the nature of the games for everyone this season will be that once a team gets a lead, then everything can get flat because there are no fans to drive people on.
“We spoke to the players in the dressing room afterwards about how to maintain those standards for 90 minutes, rather than 60 or 70 minutes - especially when you have a decent lead, as we did.
“It’s something we need to go over and that’s the reason we have taken so many friendly games. We are trying to get used to this environment.”
Front foot and press
Neilson and the 7,500 or so fans who watched the game on the club’s live stream would have been encouraged by the tempo at which Hearts played at in the first half and the threat they posed down the flanks.
The willingness and desire to close the opposition down out of possession and try to win the ball back was noticeable. More than ever, it is something Neilson values with the team unable to feed off the supporters to go after teams.
“It is going to be massive for us," he said. “When you play at Tynecastle fans give you that energy to go and get after the ball and press. When you are on the pitch and the fans are here you feel that intensity of it all. You don't have that, we have to bring it ourselves.
"We have to be on the front foot, press, make teams make mistakes so we can go and break on them and counter.
"We have a strong team here, we have some really fast forward players. It's important we win the ball and break into good areas.”