Steven Naismith denied that the Hearts squad are displaying the ill-effects of “confusion” over lack of leadership following their 5-0 mauling by Rangers.
The inability of Ann Budge and the Hearts board to put Austin MacPhee out of his misery as interim manager more than a month after Craig Levein was relieved of his duties cannot explain away such lamentable performances as the one they turned in at Ibrox to remain down among the most serious strugglers in the top flight, according to the Scotland forward.
“I wouldn’t say it’s confusion. Our job is to do it on the pitch and it’s not happening,” said Naismith. “That is what it is. That doesn’t change for a player. Austin is taking the team at the moment and we go out and try and do as a group what him and the coaching staff want us to do.
“Today’s performance was not down to who was in charge. The team as a whole wasn’t good enough and didn’t defend well enough and that was the problem today.
“The clarity will come when it comes. The club has made the point pretty clear that they are going to look for the right man rather than just a shotgun reaction to try to get someone in quick.
“We have enough experience in the squad that should be able to deal with this.
“The games between now and Christmas will determine what happens this season for us as a club. As players we need to fight for the chances we get. But what the squad need to understand is that whatever manager is linked with this or interested is going to be watching these games.
“It’s not as if they are going to turn up on day one without an idea on the squad. Whether that happens this week or next the players should be on their toes already.”
Despite growing evidence to the contrary, Naismith insists the Hearts players are better than they are showing in claiming only 11 points from the first 14 games of the league campaign.
“I train with them every day. I honestly think they are,” said the 33-year-old. “I think a lot are low in confidence. There is a lot of naivety in there and that needs to change. But it’s not going to change overnight. We need to work hard and start being stronger as a unit defensively.
“That wasn’t an easy afternoon, far from it. Rangers are a very good team as they have shown all season. In spells we looked okay, but I think they got goals which came at a bad time and we’ve got to be disappointed with the goals. The way they went in from our point of view wasn’t good enough in all honesty.”