Daniel Stendel knows he has a mission on his hands to turn things around at Hearts but, with the club sitting bottom of the league table, the fledgling Tynecastle boss expects it will be even tougher to convince others to join the quest.
“I have some ideas [for new signings] but, in the end, it’s not always my decision,” he said. “Our club has to decide, the other club has to decide, money decides and the player himself has to decide to come.”
Given the current predicament, that may not be as straightforward as he would like. “I hope I can convince someone to come and join this club. But, if you don’t know Scottish football and the league, and you just look at the table, it’s not so easy to be convinced,” Stendel added.
“You can try telling someone to come to a team at the bottom of the league – but you have to explain that we’re so much better than that. That’s difficult. But I will do it.”
Some of the players he inherited have shown enough to indicate they merit at least a chance in his squad moving forward whereas others have failed to meet the demands of the new man and will be shipped out, where possible, to free up wages for men Stendel believes can exert a positive influence on displays and the points tally when the league battle recommences in three weeks.
“When I came here, the first thought was only to win games. We looked at the best squads for the games and I have some opinions on some players, on who is good enough and not good enough.
“I like it when I can think: ‘This player can help us’. Ok, it might be a difficult situation but we need more players like this. This is also the reason we will bring two to three loan players back to the squad in January from the academy who can give us more power in training and who have more ambition to say: ‘I want to play’.
“Maybe, people who don’t expect it but have the ambition to play at Tynecastle will push the players who stay here, and when they are better they will play. At the moment the feeling is: ‘Ok, I will play or I will not play… it doesn’t matter’. We need more ambition.
“This club has ambition, we want to be one of the best clubs in Scotland. At the moment there is a big gap between the best teams and this team, and I want to have players in the squad who have ambitions. I think, for this, we need new players.”
The squad wrapped up 2019 with a much-improved performance against Aberdeen but wins are needed in 2020 to safeguard their Premiership status.
“‘We talk a bit about going higher in the table but, after my first games, we just need to get some wins,” said Stendel. “Then we can look in the summer for new things. At the moment, we need things to help us immediately – and turn things around over the next four months.”
The winter shutdown will be an opportunity for the German to drill his squad in his style of play and integrate some new faces, welcome back those who have been out injured and instill fresh energy. It will also provide the breather needed on the back of a congested fixture list to work on adding an assistant manager to the mix, Stendel adamant that he wants his right-hand man in place as soon as possible, and try to address outstanding football issues.
“At the moment we are trying to get all the sports side of the club together,” he added. “A lot of things have changed at this club, especially on the sports side. It’s not only the manager but a lot of things around the team.
“When we achieve the same level across this side of things that we have across other sides of the club, we will have a really, really good club – and a really good team. But, we need to improve our sports side. For me, that is everything on the pitch, on the training pitch, here at Oriam. We try to bring more professionalism to this club on the sports side.
“When I talk with Ann and other people on the administration side of the club, you can see how they work in the boardroom, it’s so professional. Now we need to work hard to bring the sports side of the club up to the same level. Then we’re not just a good club but a big club.”