Ian Cathro admits winning is Hearts’ priority over performance during the final five games of the season.
The Edinburgh club must overhaul a four-point deficit between themselves and St Johnstone to finish fourth in the Ladbrokes Premiership and qualify for Europe.
Stylish victories are Cathro’s preference but, as he prepares his squad to face Partick Thistle at Tynecastle this weekend, the Hearts head coach acknowledged that winning is all that matters at this stage in the campaign.
“If it’s not a spectacle and we win 1-0, I’m happy because we won. The performance is about how we win,” he told the Evening News. “I don’t want anybody to be confused that we’re focusing on performing well and that doesn’t mean we’re focusing on winning.
“We are focusing on winning and we believe that performing well, making the right decisions and doing the right things are what help us to win. It’s important to be clear on that.
“What I want to do in every single game is win. The performance is there to help you win. The more correct decisions we make in a game, the stronger we are collectively, make it more likely that we’ll perform better and win.”
Thistle’s arrival begins the post-split fixtures and, after Hibs’ defeat in the Scottish Cup semi-finals, fourth place in the Premiership will permit entry to the Europa League first qualifying round. That is Hearts’ stated target but they must fend off competition from St Johnstone and Partick. Results have been inconsistent and performances haven’t reached the standard Cathro demands. “We understand the only thing everybody is interested in is seeing an improvement in results. We focus every day on improving ourselves, and I believe performing well will help us to win,” he continued.
“The only thing that matters right now is us being ready to compete and do what we need to do in the next game.”