Robbie Neilson makes further demand of Hearts despite 4-1 win and rules out business next week
Robbie Neilson has warned his Hearts side that they will need to pull together a strong 90 minutes if they are to prosper in Europe.
Despite romping to a comfortable 4-1 league victory over a Dundee United side still reeling from their midweek European humiliation, the Gorgie gaffer was unhappy that they let standards slip throughout the first half and has demanded a more complete performance in Switzerland this Thursday.
Taking the lead in the opening 50 seconds of the match, the Hearts gaffer said his men failed to play to their strengths in the remainder off that first half and although they came good after the interval putting a further three goals past Jack Ross’ team, he said more is needed if they are to return to Tynecastle for the second leg of their Europa League play-off with something to fight for.
“I was pleased with the result,” said Neilson. “We started the game really well but I thought the first half we never played anywhere near the levels we normally play at.
“We were trying to force the play, giving it away and not doing the things we’d spoken about previously.
“We changed it at half time and managed to get settled in the game and do what we’re good at.
“They played with a diamond, we were 3-4-3 and the first minute of the game we did exactly what we spoke about – get it wide, in behind and cross the ball and score a goal.
“Then for some reason the next 44 minutes we stopped doing it. We start trying to force it into the middle where they have four players. They win it back and counter attack and we start to lose control of the game.
“We spoke at half-time about figuring out how to win the game and what brings success. If it’s successful we will keep doing it. Don’t try and force something else.”
And, he has cautioned against underestimating FC Zurich, who drew 1-1 this weekend to remain rooted at the foot of the table.
“They are still Swiss champions so we have to be respectful of that as well. They have not had a great start to the season but still have international players there so we need to make sure that we play our best game. We need to bring that second half performance and not the first, to give ourselves the best chance.”
Bolstered by the return of Stephen Kingsley, the Hearts boss reported that both Alex Cochrane and Craig Halkett will be available despite a tight hamstring and turned ankle. But he said they are likely to run out of time when it comes to adding new recruits.
“The squad needs to be in by Tuesday so I don't see us getting someone in before that,” Neilson added.
“We want to bring something back here to Tynecastle, whether that be a draw or a win or a close. We want to come here and be able to use this atmosphere and intensity to drive us forward and push us through. But they have real quality so we need to make sure we negate that but we feel we have real threat in the attacking area and we believe we can go there and score.”