First team

Naismith: Best is Still To Come

08 February 2024

Steven Naismith hailed his team’s “professional” performance against St. Johnstone at McDiarmid Park and believes the best is still to come.


The Hearts boss highlighted the team’s patience and resilience as they broke down a stubborn Saints side under the lights in Perth, with Naismith thrilled with his side’s display in both defence and attack as the Jambos picked up another precious three points to go ten matches unbeaten.


Speaking to Hearts TV after the game, he said: “The all-round performance was most pleasing. We played the game in the final third and as teams get deeper in response to that – it becomes all about finding a way to break that down. I felt we did create chances in the first 30 minutes.


“We then give away a couple of fouls which effects the momentum. Overall, we were really controlled it was just about speeding the ball up in that final third and moving a little quicker. The game hinges on the first goal – and as we kept probing, they had to open up.


Naismith was proud of how his team performed at McDiarmid Park


“It could have been more comfortable and that’s probably an area where we can be better at. Once we get into the final third and create chances, we need to take them because it makes it a more enjoyable and comfortable night.


“Overall, though, very pleased. The way we managed the game at the end was great as well – a really professional performance.”


Lawrence Shankland’s 55th minute strike was enough to secure victory for Hearts, with the forward notching his 50th competitive goal for the club since arriving from Belgian side Beerschot in the summer of 2022.


The manager believes Shanks is playing the best football of his career at Tynecastle, and pointed to the contribution of the whole team that helped Lawrence on his way to a half-century of goals in maroon.


Shankland notched his 50th competitive goal for the club in Perth


With more points, and a cup tie against Aidrieonians, up for grabs – Naismith is confident the best is yet to come from Hearts.


“I think Lawrence is playing the best football of his career,” he added.  “I’ve said before but he’s a leader with how he guides the group. There’s him and a few others that are in the prime of their career but the root of that comes from how good we are as a team.


“We work hard. We’re disciplined. We always strive to improve. All of Shanks’ numbers outwith his goals are the best of his career. That’s because we’re a good team with how we play and create chances for him.


“We know he’s the best striker in the league and in those moments, he has the calmness and finesse to create and score. The development comes when more guys start doing that and we’re able to start killing games off a bit earlier.


“Our pressing is getting better. We’re growing and developing and becoming a very good team. There’s loads to go but we’re in a very good place.”