Hearts skipper Christophe Berra explains why he is excited by team’s potential
Christophe Berra is hugely encouraged by the quality of players Hearts now have in their ranks, but the captain admits the most crucial thing is to blend into a unit.
Manager Craig Levein’s eye-catching summer recruitment drive has given the Tynecastle squad a strong look on paper and Berra is hopeful that they are now equipped to return to the top four of the Premiership this season after back-to-back sixth-place finishes.
To enjoy the level of consistency required to do this, however, Berra is adamant that the players must mesh together effectively and play as a proper team, rather than be reliant on moments of individual inspiration.
“We’ve assembled a really good group of individuals, experienced individuals as well, and we’ve got some good youngsters coming through,” Berra told the Evening News. “But it’s down to us now to gel as a team, get all the individual qualities together, and put on performances on the pitch. It’s important that, although we have lots of good individuals, we become a good team.
“You’re never going to win anything if you’re relying on individuals. An individual might win you a game here and there but over the long run, you need to be a good team, attacking and defending as a team, home and away. We have got good individuals but that won’t guarantee us victories unless we play well as a team.”
In this regard, Berra was buoyed by the way things went in Friday’s 2-1 Betfred Cup win away to Motherwell. The captain felt the impressive victory at Fir Park was a prime example of how Hearts need to deal with away matches this term, with everyone working together to keep the team in control of the match.
“Motherwell didn’t really hit us with an onslaught and we limited them to very few chances apart from their goal,” said Berra.
“We had various counter-attacks and probably could have scored a few more if we had been more clinical. Apart from the Motherwell goal, it would have been a perfect away performance. It’s hard to go away from home and dominate from start to finish so sometimes you have to let the home team open up and try and catch them on the counter-attack, like teams do to us at Tynecastle. We had some moments of good play.
“A win like Friday’s breeds confidence.
“A lot of players play off confidence, especially the attackers. But it also helps the defenders when we have a solid performance as a unit like we did on Friday.
“It wasn’t just the defenders that made it solid, though, it was all about the structure and the unit. The work the forwards put in on Friday helped us so much. They set the tone and it made our job a lot easier.
“You want to be a good unit and do your job individually, but, trust me, defensively it starts from the front. If the forwards do a good job, it helps the guys behind them and that in turn helps the guys behind them.
“If the ten outfield players are all working together, that makes the difference. As defenders, we know we’ll have individual moments when we have to be in the right position to go and win headers or tackles, but over the course of a season it’s all about how well we work as a unit.”