Malaury Martin has been written off in the past so he is far from fazed by the thought of having to win over disgruntled Hearts fans and prove that he has what it takes to enjoy success at Tynecastle.
The French midfielder was part of the mass recruitment drive undertaken by the Gorgie club in January and he has become something of a poster boy for the downturn in fortunes ever since.
While others were brought in on short-term deals, he was offered a three-year contract and, after some flashes of promise in his first few games, he has done little to justify that show of faith, according to his critics.
“It is not easy. But I have still enjoyed it,” said the 28-year-old former Monaco youth player. “Sometimes when you go through tough moments you see your personality and character and I hope I have shown that these few months.
“It has been difficult for me. I have not been happy with my performances on the pitch. It was not what I expected when I arrived. I had not played for a few months before I came here and I was not in my best shape so I need to show my qualities more and help the team as much as I can.”
One of the players hooked at half-time in the dismal Scottish Cup showing against derby rivals Hibernian, he has made six appearances since then but they add up to a combined tally of just 105 minutes and he is well aware that fans and manager are demanding a more telling contribution from him. But he has proved doubters wrong in the past and bounced back and he intends to do that again in the capital.
“I will not give up, it is not my mentality,” said the midfielder. “I have had cruciate operations on my left knee and my right knee, once when I was 21 and then when I was 25. I was out for eight months one time and six months the next and everybody told me I was finished with football because not many players have come back from two but I am still here. This is my mentality. It made me stronger. And this is the same.
“It is part of football when you don’t play as much and as well as you want, you have critics. But you have to continue to fight and believe you can be better and you can help the team. I like proving people wrong.”
He says the aim remains seeing out the season as positively as possible, starting against Rangers today, and then focusing on helping Hearts win trophies next term and earning the plaudits rather than the boos of the support. But he understands why the fans are so disgruntled right now.
“I’ve only been here four months but I know the history and I know what these fans have done for their club. But don’t think the players lose a game then go home and party and enjoy ourselves. We don’t like to lose.
“At every big club like Hearts, fans have expectations and if things are going wrong they have to protest and put pressure on us. I would rather play in front of passionate fans than fans who don’t give a sh**. It’s always full at Tynecastle and that’s fantastic. Sometimes it’s difficult and they boo us but when we score we enjoy it a lot because you hear the people cheering.”