Callum Paterson has told the Hearts players that it is time to stop making excuses and “man up” after their timid and embarrassing exit from the Scottish Cup at the hands of their city foes.
Like around 100,000 others, the injured Scotland defender, watched the “horrible” thumping unfold on Periscope, gutted that he was unable to do anything to alter the outcome or inspire a more gutsy performance. But he said the players had to shoulder the blame and claimed that, given time, manager Ian Cathro would turn things around,
“Honestly, he is brilliant,” said Paterson. “His tactical mind, everything is unbelievable. It’s just not clicking right now, but that will come. The way he applies himself on the training ground is impeccable, he is respectful. He’s great at what he does. It’s about giving it time to work.”
But while his Hibernian counterpart had chosen to publicly lambast his players after a poor performance in the lead-up to the cup replay, prompting a dominant display on Wednesday, Paterson said that Cathro was more likely to keep any stern words private.
The most recent derby display has been described by many as the most abject since the Gorgie side were trounced 6-2 in 2000, while others have suggested that despite a more palatable scoreline, the paucity of passion meant this week’s showing was even worse.
It certainly extended Hearts’ run of derby clashes without a win to seven, their poorest sequence since the 1970s, and Paterson said his manager had “hit the nail on the head” when he stated that the players and coaching staff now have a lot of making up to do if they are to win over fans who streamed out of Easter Road long before the match, their dreams of a prolonged cup run ended
“Everyone will be hurting but they need to man up and try to rectify it,” said Paterson. “I’ve played in many derbies, I’ve won a few and lost a few, so I know exactly how they should be feeling. They need to use that hurt to build something positive. They do that by taking third place minimum and by trying to push on further than that.”
They also need to shy away from excuses, he warned, diluting comments made by his team-mate Jamie Walker and Hibernian goalscorer Jason Cummings, who both cited the number of relative newcomers in Hearts’ ranks as a factor in Hibs’ domination.
“You could say that Jamie’s comments were true, but you could also look at that as an excuse, especially from him. He has played in lots of derbies and scored lots of goals,” added the full-back.
Cummings claimed that seeing a Hearts teamsheet with eight newcomers to the Easter Road fixture had given Hibernian a pre-match boost but Paterson said that should never have been a significant advantage. “Football is not about where you have played or what games you have played in. It’s about letting your quality shine through and taking that on to win the games.
“We’ve brought in some quality players, some amazing players, but it didn’t click on Wednesday and the boys will need to take what is coming their way.”
Accepting what has already happened and looking forward is something Paterson has had to do since he crumpled to the turf with torn knee ligaments during a match against Kilmarnock, in December. Out of contract at the end of the season, the 22-year-old was in the form of his life and on the verge of a big move to English football. It was a setback for Cathro, but a massive blow to the full-back, who admits it has been frustrating to watch from the sidelines “heading every ball, kicking every ball”
“All I do is play football, think about football,” he added. “It’s the one thing I love the most and I can’t do it right now. But I accepted [the situation] the day I did it. I knew what I had done and I got the tears out of the way on day one. I’ve got nine months to get better and when it comes to long-term injury, 90 per cent of it is in the mind. As long as you keep the mind healthy the body will follow.
“I’m a big believer that what’s for you won’t go by you. If it’s not right at the time then it’s not right. There’s obviously a reason for it and I’ve just got to deal with it. It’s a bit morbid but I’ve got one of my good mates injured now too in John Souttar. We will bounce off each other and drive each other on.”
While Hearts have said they would offer him a new contract, the player has put decisions about his future on the back burner.
“I’ve nothing to decide now,” he said. “My future is up in the air but I’m not focusing on that. I’ve been dealt the worst hand. I’ve got to focus on fixing myself.
“I’ve got high ambitions for when I return. I’ve been playing for the national team and that’s where I want to return. I’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of me but I want to get back even better.”
l Callum Paterson was speaking at the Tesco Bank Football Challenge at Queensferry Primary School, South Queensferry. More than 120,000 children have now taken part in the grassroots programme.