Why Steven Naismith is asking questions of Hearts coaches as he settles into new career
Never a shrinking violet as a player, Steven Naismith displays the same characteristics while coaching. His is a voice worth listening to.
He supervises sessions at Hearts’ Riccarton training base along with manager Robbie Neilson plus assistants Lee McCulloch and Gordon Forrest. Yet Naismith has constant questions running through his mind and often queries his superiors.
Just weeks since retiring as a player, the 34-year-old is using his experience of international and English Premier League football in his new role as Hearts’ football development manager.
“It’s brilliant to have Naisy as part of the team. What he brings is football knowledge in pressure situations. He is bubbly every single day, he has an opinion which is always good,” explained McCulloch, a former team-mate of Naismith at Rangers.
“Believe it or not that can be rare at times in some coaches. For the young coaches that Gordon and I have worked with before, sometimes they come in and just say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to everything.
“With Naisy it is ‘why are we doing that?’ and ‘can we not try it this way?’. That’s what Gordon and I have been really impressed with from him. He has an opinion and he isn’t worried about sharing.
“The managers he has worked under, the players he has played with and the experience he has means he has something to bring to the table. He has played in so many big games and he has played in so many different scenarios and he can share those with the players.
“He has such respect from the lads in the dressing room and I think it’s a great appointment from the manager. For what he has done in his career the players look up to him.
“Having a good career doesn’t automatically make you a good coach but for me he is a total natural. He has a way about him. He is in and about Gordon and myself every day asking questions. He keeps us on our toes and that’s brilliant.
“I felt he could become a coach when we played together. It was a long time ago but he was always a fiery character. He was club captain here last season and I think when you go into coaching from playing you need to have had a leadership.
“Being captain, it makes it the perfect transition. He hasn’t changed, he is still so humble, but he has an opinion and he tells people exactly what he thinks.”
The odd moan is still a prerequisite with Naismith. “Gordon and I let him take the bounce games in training. He used to moan at the two of us all the time when he was playing, so we are giving him a taste of his own medicine,” smiled McCulloch.
“He laughed it off and took the whistle and off he went. He moaned more as a player, now he isn’t moaning too much.
“Having another winner on the coaching team can only help. When you are a club of this size when the expectation levels are very high then you need that type of character.
“We can’t be doing with nodding dogs on the coaching staff. That’s why he is a great appointment. Gordon and I have our opinions but the buck stops with the manager.”