Hearts boss Steven Naismith has Jim Jefferies Morton rant seared into memory as he confirms big team selection call

Current Jambos gaffer has one Cappielow disaster in his mind – and does not want another one

Hearts head coach Steven Naismith is channelling the painful memory of a coach going “mental” in the Cappielow dressing room to steel his players for Monday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final against Morton.

Naismith was in the Kilmarnock team that suffered a 3-1 defeat in the same tournament in 2007 against a Morton side who were two divisions below them in the Scottish league. The Killie players were on the receiving end of an old-fashioned post-match rant from Jim Jefferies and his assistant Billy Brown, in particular, which Naismith can remember clearly to this day. Naismith went on to fire Killie into the League Cup final with a semi-final hat-trick later that month and enjoyed cup success with Rangers, but the Greenock experience was an important part of his football education.

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“It is definitely a memory I can still remember now,” the 37-year-old said. “It was probably the first time I really experienced a manager going mental It’s clear. It wasn’t a good day. I remember even going back on the bus, how you felt after it. It stood me in good stead because I went on to win both cup competitions in Scotland. It’s something I remember, I didn’t enjoy, and I don’t want to experience it again.”

Steven Naismith takes his Hearts team to Morton on Monday.Steven Naismith takes his Hearts team to Morton on Monday.
Steven Naismith takes his Hearts team to Morton on Monday.

When asked if he could take anything from it to inform his own approach to Monday’s cup tie, Naismith said: “You don’t go mental now at players, because that doesn’t happen. But it’s definitely been something I have used this week to make everybody aware that this isn’t us, third in the Premiership, doing really well, going to go down there and it’s going to be nice and pretty and get it all our own way. That’s not going to happen. This is going to be a cup tie where they are going to try, and believe they can, cause an upset. We need to guard against that. I don’t want the feeling I had after that cup tie, so you use it all to make sure you are ready for the game.”

Morton knocked out Motherwell in the previous round and manager Dougie Imrie has vowed to make the quarter-final “horrible” for Hearts, warning them they will not enjoy the small dressing rooms and other aspects of Cappielow. Naismith, who confirmed Craig Gordon would continue his Scottish Cup starting role, said: “I think he’s honest. That’s something they have got to tap into. We obviously play in the Premiership, most weeks you are playing on a decent surface. But in the Premiership you have got old stadiums with small changing rooms and all that stuff.

“We just need to have an understanding, that’s what we are going to. It’s not going to be nice and the pitch is what it is. At this time of the season the training pitches are very much like that and a lot of the pitches we play on are the same. We are in the right frame of mind, we understand what we are going to. A lot of us were in the squad that have been in the Championship, so we have played at Morton. The biggest thing is getting the understanding to compete in the game and then put our quality on show.”

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