Hearts players 'know there will always be criticism from fans' as Alex Cochrane reveals long look in mirror
A tough season in which they have had to cope with the dual demands of European and domestic football, while also navigating a lengthy injury list, they had looked like strong favourites to wrap up the Premiership as ‘best of the rest’ but the recent blip has allowed Aberdeen to close to within one point of them, with St Mirren, Hibs and Livingston still in the chase. It has led to strong criticism from elements of the fanbase, with manager Robbie Neilson the subject of negative graffiti but the 22-year-old left-sided defender says that simply reminds the players that they are playing for a big club.
“Since day one I have felt the expectation and pressure,” said Cohrane. “That’s what happens when you play for Hearts. But as players you thrive off it. We want that pressure to go out and win every game and to win trophies. All the noise from the fans has been there from day one. For me it’s about us putting in a performance for them this weekend. We will be positive from the start and go from there. We have eight games left in the season and we want a big push.
“At every club there are always going to be fans who have their say but we know performances have not been what they should be. But this weekend is a chance to put it right. There’s always going to be criticism from fans. It’s part of the job. As players we just have to go about our business and get back to what we’ve been good at all season. It starts this weekend and it’s going to be a tough game. St Mirren are a tough team and there’s a lot to play for.”
Two of their recent losses were to league leaders Celtic, while the other defeats to Motherwell, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock have all been on the road. But the Gorgie outfit have been far more formidable on home turf and welcome St Mirren to Tynecastle this weekend. “The table has got tighter,” added Cochrane. “We know we need a positive result this weekend. We have got a strong team and a resilient team and it’s about going out and showing that and being positive. We have players in there who are experienced at all levels and it definitely helps me as a young player. We are a tight knit group.”
Taken off after just 34 minutes at Pittodrie, he was a substitute against Kilmarnock last week, Cochrane knows just how important it is to be able to bounce back. “I’m my own worst critic and know myself that my performance against Aberdeen wasn’t good enough,” the English defender added. “I looked myself in the mirror and knew I needed to get my levels back up. As a footballer you know you’re going to have highs and lows and it’s about trying to get myself back up to where I was this season.”
Which is something they will need to do as a collective if they want to live up to their season’s ambitions.