First Team

Keep to the plan

23rd September 2018

Steven Naismith believes sticking to the gameplan will be key if Hearts are to break down opponents who try to stifle them.

The Jambos couldn’t find a way past Livingston at Tynecastle yesterday, despite twice hitting the bar.

Naismith saw his first-half penalty saved on an afternoon that proved frustrating for the men in maroon, and the Scotland forward thinks the start they’ve had to the season has afforded them a respect from other teams which will make it harder for his teammates to play their own game.

“We hit the bar twice, had a penalty saved, kept a clean sheet and played terribly, and it feels like a defeat,” he said. “We’ve not been too high from the start of the season, and we won’t get too low now.

“It’s just in the immediate aftermath you feel bad, because it’s a home game and a good chance to get more points but Livingston are at the top end of the league for a reason.

“There’s still plenty of positives. We’ve not gotten carried away so far.

“It’s been about small markers. We knew last week’s game at Motherwell was a big marker for us as a team, and as a club. We’ve been in those positions last season and it wasn’t the same.

“Now, we’re in a position where there’s a lot of respect afforded to us by the opponents who’ll try to stifle us, and we need to stick to the game plan. Yesterday, I felt we didn’t stick to the plan well enough.

“The team will need to learn to break down opponents. I’m used to it from my time at Rangers.

“That comes from the start we’ve had. The players need to learn to trust the game plan.

“The players might see what they think is a better option for a pass, but it isn’t for the style we want to play, it’s about making the right decision and that’s where we weren’t good enough yesterday.”