First Team

Alim: "I'll play anywhere"

9th August 2015

Skipper admits first-half didn't quite work against Dundee, but says he'll play wherever the gaffer tells him to in order to help the team.

Alim Ozturk admitted Hearts’ tactical reshuffle failed to pay off in the first-half of Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership win over Dundee at Dens Park.

Finding himself deployed in a midfield role, the skipper and his squad struggled to contain a confident Dark Blues side and kept the scoreline at 0-1 going into the break.

After Robbie Neilson rejigged things, putting the 22-year-old back into his familiar central defensive berth, Hearts found their groove and grabbed a deserved win thanks to Juanma’s two goals.

“The first half was hard for us,” said Ozturk. “We tried something else, it didn’t work today so we changed back with me in defence. I would play anywhere for Robbie, but I was definitely more comfortable in the second half.

“Dundee are a good side, they won 4-0 away last week so that tells their quality and first half they were better but once we changed shape, it was much better and we were better as a team.”

While denying there was anger between the players at half-time, the Jambos captain conceded that the players needed to be told that their performance so far wasn’t good enough, and to his delight, the team responded.

“Everybody was annoyed at half-time because we were losing and we shouldn’t be losing games, everybody was told what needed to be done. Not a lot of angry words were spoken, I just said we had to wake up in the 2nd half.”

Finally, Hearts find themselves top of the Ladbrokes Premiership after two matches and, while laughing at the prospect of running away with another league title after last year’s exploits, Alim stated that once a team gets used to winning, it can become hard to stop.

“It’s really important to start a season well. It gives you confidence, obviously, but you get used to winning and it’s easier to play when you’ve been winning but while we’d like to stay top all season we have many hard games. 

“We have a home game versus Motherwell now and we should be winning our home games, so that when we win away games too, it gives us that extra boost to carry with us.”