The Frenchman has yet to make a genuine impact after nine appearances in maroon, but his face takes on a determined look when he is asked about the malaise.
Three wins in ten matches since Martin arrived from the Norwegian club Lillestrom is not the form to pacify the ever-expectant Tynecastle support. Wednesday night’s 1-0 home defeat by Ross County was the first time the Highlanders had ever recorded a victory in Gorgie. Martin, 28, is experienced enough to know it won’t do. He has dropped out of the starting line-up in recent matches and fans are already questioning his contribution along with that of some team-mates.
The midfielder spoke to the Evening News to outline his resolve and willpower to address the situation. He has played only nine times for Hearts so far and is entitled to expect more time to adjust to the unforgiving environment that is Scottish football. Nonetheless, he doesn’t hide the feeling of dissatisfaction with what he has produced.
“I’m not happy with my own performances,” he explained. “I don’t think about myself, I think about the team. When you lose, you are not happy. If you win, you are happy. After the Rangers game, when we won 4-1 I was happy. After Hibs [Scottish Cup replay defeat], I was really not happy.
“I will work hard and I hope to get more time to play. I will give everything for the club. I came here for this and I will not give up. I will fight and I will continue to work as hard as I can to change things – for the team and for myself. The team comes first, of course.”
Martin signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Hearts in January so time is certainly on his side. He was regarded as an influential figure at Lillestrom and a major player in the Norwegian Tippeligaen. The Ladbrokes Premiership is similar in its direct style of football, which gives the player confidence he will succeed.
“I come from a league which is a little bit similar. There are long balls, second balls to win, direct play and fight. I had success there. I managed to play and impose my football there. That’s what I will do here in time. I will fight for that.
“I will continue to play my type of football and believe I can do it. If I could not think like this, I would not be here. I need time to know my partners and time to get this mix together. I’m quite sure I will be a success here.”
His steadfast conviction will encourage fans and team-mates alike during a difficult period. Hearts will regroup and take stock this weekend after a bruising set of fixtures which have yielded just two league victories since the Premiership’s winter break. There is a definite sense of anxiety about Riccarton at the moment which wasn’t anticipated.
“You feel responsibility all the time. Whether you are a new player or an old player, we are all in the same boat,” admitted Martin. “I have a responsibility and I will give my best all the time. I will work hard to change this situation, but it’s not easy. We knew when we arrived that there were a lot of new players and that it would not be easy.
“We didn’t think it would quite be like this, but we know it now. We will roll our sleeves up and work hard to change this situation.”
Wednesday’s defeat by Ross County was Hearts’ third successive loss. It is not only players being intensely scrutinised and criticised, for head coach Ian Cathro already has fans calling for his removal just 15 games into his managerial career. He and assistant Austin MacPhee also signed contracts until summer 2020 and will be given time by the Tynecastle board to reverse the club’s fortunes.
It is perhaps no bad thing that Martin and his team-mates have no fixture this weekend, though. Time to reassess and plan for the final two months of the campaign can be used wisely before a home fixture against Hamilton on Saturday, March 11.
“When the situation is like this, it’s tough,” said the Frenchman. “We have had a difficult week, we lost a very important game against Hibs with a really bad performance. I think luck is not on our side so it’s quite a tough moment. We have no game this weekend so we have time to work really hard and change that.
“I’m not sure we deserved to lose on Wednesday night. We controlled the ball well and we got unlucky hitting the crossbar twice. I don’t know how many shots Ross County had. Maybe two? Not many, anyway, and they scored one. That’s football.
“Every league is tough. We know the Scottish league is tough. There is a way to play but when you hit the bar twice, you think: ‘What’s going on?’ You feel like everything is against us.
“That’s how it is, you have some periods like this. Now we have to really turn things thing round for us. The only way to do that is to be strong together and work for each other. Only that will help.”