Daniel Stendel wants Hearts to have a clear identity and he wants all his players to be clear on what that is, which is why he will be recalling some of the young players who are out on loan and looking to immerse them in his ideas and tactics.
“I look to the future,” said the German, who will take charge of his first game this afternoon, following his appointment last weekend. “I want to bring more young players into the squad. I want to see them in training to see what they can do.
“We have a few young players like Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald who are out on loan. We want them to train with us because I hear they have a lot of potential.
“I know they can’t play with us until at least January but I want to look at them in training. It is important to show young players that they will get the chance to show they can play in the first team here.
“I think it is important we are a club who improve and develop our young players and that we will give them a chance to play in the Premiership, that is the goal. I want to get a feeling for all of the players who are in the squad before January to see what we need.”
At both Hannover 96 and Barnsley, he utilised a blend of youth and more established players as he left his imprint on the team and the tactics.
It is something he will push forward with at Hearts as well, aware that it excites the fans but also saves the club money and time as they are already well-versed on his style and demands before they make the breakthrough. The kids are also more invested if they have come through the ranks and feel a part of things.
“I think this is the easiest way, when you’ve invested in an academy, a coaching staff and young players who have come here to improve themselves. It’s not expensive. And the identity of the club is going to be stronger because the young players say: ‘OK, I train to play at Tynecastle.’ This is a good thing, that the players feel this and know this.
“We need to give all players in this club a target, show what can be achieved and say to themselves: ‘OK, next time this is for me. What is the biggest aim for me?’ I hope the biggest aim of the young players is to play at Tynecastle.”
The Gorgie side will host St Johnstone at Tynecastle today, with the teams locked on the same points tally at the foot of the table. But fed-up fans who have stayed away during the tough start to the season will return to the stands, filling the ground with expectancy.
Stendel is the man who has excited them and imbued them with hope but there is pressure on the new manager, who will be assisted in the dugout by Andy Kirk, pictured inset. Still early days, the support will still be looking for signs of the high-press, high-tempo approach he is renowned for. But, oblivious to the fact the team have won just one home league game so far this season, Stendel says he is looking forward to the Tynecastle experience.
“For me, it’s the first game and I have the impression that the players aren’t thinking about the past, only the future – and a new start,” he said.
“I’m so looking forward to this. OK, the time has been short. But this is the job and I have heard in these last days so much about Tynecastle and our supporters that I can only enjoy the game, and when I add in my impressions from training, from the players, I have a good feeling.”
The change in tactics will take time to click, and Stendel says it will be easier when some of the international players, currently sidelined with injury, return to the set-up. But the encouraging thing for him is that his new charges are open to his ideas and working hard to implement them.
“I have learned more things about the club and the players over the last few days. It has given me a better idea of what we can do and things we can look to change. The first impression is good and it seems all the players want to improve. Everyone at the club wants to move forward.”