B team

Fox enjoying life back at Hearts

27 September 2023

It’s been a great start to the season for Liam Fox’s Hearts B side, who are currently sitting second in their second season of Lowland League football.


Fox returned to the club in the summer, following Steven Naismith’s appointment as first team head coach and although we are only a third of the way through the campaign, the Wee Jambos have only suffered one defeat in their opening 11 league matches.


It’s no surprise to see the men in maroon growing in confidence following their inaugural season in the division. The Wee Jambos finished 13th last season and although many outsiders would’ve looked upon that as a poor season, the rewards of last season’s exploits are now fully on display.


The purpose of entering a B Team in the Lowland League has always been about player development over results, and while Fox acknowledges that statement to be accurate, he admits that there is always a will to win for anybody who gets involved in the beautiful game.


Speaking to the Official Hearts Website, he said: “The development of the players is by far the most important thing.  


“This league offers the chance to have meaningful fixtures every week and then off the back of that, you can plan properly and review games. Individually, you can work on video during the week and hold extra sessions if that is what is required.


“But don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, anybody that gets involved in football wants to win and that will to win will always be there.


“It’s great for the players to be able to look at the league table and see themselves sitting second, but we’re only a third of the way into the season.”


Much like under Naismith, the Wee Jambos are playing a possession-based style of football under Fox and like last season, they are scoring plenty of goals.


The Wee Jambos found the net 75 times last season, and, at times, they were a joy to watch. Scoring some really good goals in many entertaining goal-laden matches.


The early season stats will highlight that they are on course to record a similar feat this season, having already bagged 27 goals in their 11 league matches to date.


The problem last season mainly surrounded keeping the ball out at the other end, perhaps unsurprisingly, while adjusting to the physicality of the league, the men in maroon regularly conceded from set pieces, particularly at the beginning of the season.


Naismith often used the word naïve when describing aspects of Hearts’ defending, but as the season continued, the youngsters became more street-smart, and Hearts’ form picked up, as confidence and belief grew.


That is something the Wee Jambos have taken into this season and Fox is pleased with the early season form.


“The attitude and application of the players has been really good,” he continued. I am really pleased with that. They’ve worked very hard during pre-season to get fit and get up to speed.


“We are asking them to play a bit differently. To be really brave in possession, pass the ball and ask certain players to come and take the ball in positions where they’re under a bit of pressure. They are a very receptive group and I’m delighted with the way they’ve responded to that.


“Whenever you try do things slightly differently, there are always going to be points where there are mistakes. They are young players, who are still learning the game, so there will always be mistakes as they are searching for a level of consistency.


“We have to work every single day to continue to improve. Nobody gets carried away with a positive result or performance. The culture we have set is that every day is an opportunity to get better and the guys have embraced that, so long may that continue.”


On a personal level, in comparison to his recent roles at Dundee United and Aberdeen respectively, Fox’s new role at Tynecastle presented different challenges and he admits working with the Wee Jambos has given him a ‘spring in his step’.


“It’s definitely different but I’ve absolutely loved it,” he said. “The boys with their natural enthusiasm and desire to maximise every day and put so much effort into things has given me a real spring in my step again.


“Are there challenges? Of course. There are challenges with every role that you do but I am absolutely loving spending time with them and trying to develop them.


“All of these players are on their own journey and every day is a chance for them to get better. They are all fighting to reach the highest level they possibly can. They are all here because they want to play for Heart of Midlothian.


“My job is to try to install some good attitudes and habits to help them and guide them on their footballing journey.”