Steven MacLean says the Hearts players must take full responsibility for the flat performance in Saturday’s defeat by Kilmarnock.
Many supporters felt the starting formation – a 3-5-1-1 with no out-and-out-striker – was the main reason for the abject display in the 1-0 loss at Tynecastle. Levein was adamant, however, that the players lacked the required bravery to dig deep and deal with the situation and ultimately didn’t work hard enough.
MacLean, who came on at half-time, was in agreement with his manager that the players fell way short of the required level of intensity after a promising three-game unbeaten run which had included rousing victories over Hibs and Aberdeen.
“Individuals need to step up to the plate,” said the veteran striker. “It’s alright to have a game plan but you have to go out and show willingness and desire. That’s down to the players to do that. We’ve got to take responsibility for it.
“We have shown we can do it in the Hibs and Aberdeen games, but there’s no point doing it in dribs and drabs. We need to do it more consistently. There’s going to be players coming back from injury and players will be left out so it’s up to the players who have the shirt right now to do it. We worked on stuff on Thursday and Friday and we knew what we had to do. We just did not do it well enough. The manager picked a team to win the game but the players did not deliver in the first half.”
Hearts have now taken only two points from their four Premiership games at Tynecastle this season while they have won only two home league games in the whole of 2019. MacLean admits playing at home has become a struggle for the players. “Yes, it is what it is,” he said. “We’ve experienced it last season and this season too. But it’s up to us to get the crowd behind us. We need to do the right things. If you look at the Aberdeen game, we did that right from the start and the fans got behind us. That’s the sort of performances we need to put on. The way we started the Kilmarnock game was not acceptable. The crowd is not going to get behind us if we do that. If we play like we did against Aberdeen they will be with us. That’s what the fans want to see – that’s what we need to give them.”