First Team

Danny's determination

27th July 2014

Skipper reveals squad is determined to gain promotion as he looks ahead to season opener with Rangers.

Hearts did the minimum that was required of them in progressing into the next round of the Petrofac Training Cup, in the opinion of skipper Danny Wilson.

First-half strikes from Billy King, Osman Sow and Callum Paterson put the Jambos 3-0 up at the interval, and the second half was played at a training pace before Scott Davidson's late consolation for Annan Athletic.

The captain was pleased with the victory but conceded that the team still had plenty to work on in the next two weeks before the SPFL Championship season starts.

"We did our job today, but I think we could have done better", he said. "We took our foot off the gas and that's not really acceptable. We need to improve more, although we've got the time to get it right.

"We've had a hard few weeks of training to try and get used to the new style of play. It's double sessions every day, although it's not difficult to buy into the philosophy that the manager wants to implement.

"It's St Johnstone next weekend, and then the big one against Rangers. The results in pre-season have been a bit dodgy at times, but generally the performances have been consistent."

After a season spent entirely rooted to the foot of the SPFL Premiership table, Hearts find themselves in the position of favourites in almost every match they play this season.

This is the kind of pressure a footballer should relish, according to the former Liverpool man, with the expectation of the supporters who follow a club the size of Hearts weighing on the minds of the players.

"At Heart of Midlothian, there's always an expectation to do well. We all want to go straight back up, that's our mentality. It's a challenge we look forward to. Our challenge last year was to stay up, and we failed, and as a result we're in a league that this club shouldn't be in.

"A win last season was a bonus. That's not the case this season. We're now expected to win every game, and we want to get more wins on the board. We didn't get nearly enough last year for my liking."

Of course, Hearts open their league campaign with an eagerly anticipated clash with recently promoted club Rangers, with the Glasgow side looking for their third consecutive promotion. The sides haven't met at Ibrox since a 2-1 victory for Hearts in March 2012.

Despite the scale of the task in front of them, Danny insisted the team would go into the match with one mindset - to win the game.

"We won't get a harder match than Ibrox this season", he explained. "We have to look forward to these games. We're certainly not going to play for second place this season. We feel we're title contenders, although we're under no illusions as to the task at hand.

"We're quietly confident, but we're not going to set ourselves any definite targets. We want to get promoted, and we want to win the title, that much we do know."

Lastly, the Scotland cap revealed he was pleased to have more experience in the side, after leading a battered and bruised Jambos side filled with teenagers over the finish line last season.

Danny lavished praise on new signings Osman Sow and Alim Öztürk, claiming he's 'never played alongside a player like' Alim in the entirety of his career so far!

"Regardless of the experience, which is very welcome at this point, I've been impressed with all the new signings so far. Osman looks like he could be a consistent scorer for us, which we desperately needed last season.

"Everyone on the park is a little bit more grown up than they were last season, and they're taking more responsibility now, but there's still a lot to improve on. We have a squad now, so it's nice to have competition for places.

"Alim reminds me of Madjid Bougherra. He's got that cockiness, that kind of arrogance and confidence in his ability. He likes the ball at his feet and wants to play the game. He clearly fancies himself as our free kick taker now. He scored once in training, so he takes them all now apparently!"