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Steven Naismith: Nothing changes ahead of first match as Hearts head coach

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Sep 2023

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Steven Naismith feels “nothing changes” behind the scenes ahead of his first match as Hearts head coach.

Naismith was given the new title during the international break after being made technical director in the summer as Frankie McAvoy took on the head coach role.

The move was designed to meet UEFA requirements for coaching qualifications for managers in European competition, and Hearts simplified the coaching structure after exiting the Europa Conference League.

Naismith, who was appointed caretaker manager late last season, said ahead of Saturday’s visit of Aberdeen, said: “Nothing has changed behind the scenes from the seven games we took over to now, to be honest.

“It will be much more of the same. I think it’s more a paper thing than anything else.

“All along I have been comfortable with, internally, how I am valued. Everything is the same.”

Naismith accepts that fans will now know the buck stops with him.

“That probably is clearer but internally nothing changes,” he said. “In terms of the buck stopping with me, I personally felt that when I was a player and when I was a coach and when I took the team last season. Nothing really changes in that front as well.

“I will work as hard as I can with the guys who are part of the squad, part of the coaching team, the support staff, to try and bring success to the club and that’s probably been our motivation from the time we took the team.”

Defeat by Motherwell before the international break made it four losses in a row and left Hearts in eighth place, but sitting above fellow European qualifiers Aberdeen and Hibernian.

Naismith, who feels Hearts have struggled to deal with fatigue levels after European games, said: “The break probably came at a good time for us.

“Our performance levels at times this season have been really good. We have looked a threat, but then when you throw in the number of games that we have had in a short space of time, I don’t think we have dealt well with that.

“We have given up cheap goals from that and that then puts you in a difficult position, but then we just haven’t shown that bit of magic in those times when you need to dig really deep.

“For me, that has been the biggest thing, but in the last two weeks we have been able to do some really good work on that. Making sure that we play with a freedom, and we don’t think twice about playing certain passes.”

Hearts suffered a blow during the break with defender Alex Cochrane facing a spell on the sidelines.

“Alex Cochrane took a knock on his ankle in training while blocking a shot, so he is likely to be looking at six weeks or maybe longer,” he said.

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