Steven Naismith on why he's ready for Hearts job, his demanding style, and how his backroom team will work

Steven Naismith has stressed that he is ready for the Hearts job following his appointment as interim manager until the end of the season.

The 36-year-old former Hearts striker was promoted from his role as head coach of the B team after Robbie Neilson was sacked on Sunday following a 2-0 home defeat to St Mirren the previous day.

Naismith will look to arrest a slump in form that has seen the Tynecastle outfit lose six of their previous seven matches when he takes charge for the first time in the Edinburgh derby against Hibs at Easter Road on Saturday.

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He praised the “amazing” work Neilson did in taking Hearts from the Championship to European group stage football via two Scottish Cup finals but insisted he will look to put his own stamp on things.

Steven Naismith during the Youth Cup final between Hearts and Rangers at Hampden Park last year. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)Steven Naismith during the Youth Cup final between Hearts and Rangers at Hampden Park last year. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Steven Naismith during the Youth Cup final between Hearts and Rangers at Hampden Park last year. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

“Did I ever expect it to come so quickly? Probably not, but since stepping into coaching, there’s been a rapid rise in terms of experience,” he said.

“I took the lead on the 18s when John Rankin left, then the B team, and then being involved with the national team. I’ve crammed a lot into my time being a coach. I’ve learned a lot and I feel that I’m well-equipped for the upcoming couple of months.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned since joining Hearts is that there’s a demand at the club. It’s got to be a good demand and the players have got to enjoy that. The fans want attacking football. They want a team that goes into every game trying to win it. Not one that’s going to defend and hold out for a draw or a 1-0 lead.

“I was like that as a player; I wanted to be on the front foot and enjoyed having the ball and creating opportunities. I want play entertaining football. That’s easy to say and harder to implement on the training pitch and in games, but that’s what I want.

“I’m not naive to think that this is going to be easy, but I want us to be a team that takes games by the scruff of the neck.

"For me, this is the best Hearts team that I’ve been involved with. A lot of the players know me personally from my time as a player, which helps me. They understand my character, what I do. I was a player that was demanding and straight to the point. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you, or that I’ve got something against you, I just want us to improve."

Another of Naismith’s former team-mates, ex-Scotland and Rangers player Lee McCulloch, also exited the club in recent days to leave assistant manager Gordon Forrest and Frankie McAvoy to form Naismith’s backroom team for the final seven games of the Premiership season.

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Naismith told Hearts TV: “I know Frankie well: he was assistant manager during my time at Norwich City and got on really well during that time. We’ve worked together very closely since he came in as academy director.

“Frankie’s got a wealth of experience in the game from being a manager, being an assistant, and he’s someone who sees the game differently to me. That’s a strong point, because he’ll see things that I sometimes don’t.

“Gordon and I are very similar in loads of aspects: preparation, training, set-up, and delivery, how we want the game to be played. Gordy’s got a real enthusiasm for the game and I’m learning from him. I’ve leaned on him a lot since I’ve been in my job.”



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