'No change' at Hearts as 'valued' Naismith returns to manager role

Naismith insists Saturday's game against Aberdeen is not a must-win, but he is looking for a good performance from his players.

Steven Naismith insists there will be no change to the way the Hearts management team have been operating as he returns to his position as head coach.

The 37-year-old former Scotland forward will take full responsibility for the first-team squad again after a spell as technical director with Frankie McAvoy in the lead role.

This was due to Naismith, who took over from Robbie Neilson last season on an initial interim basis, not having the required qualifications to manage the team in European competition.

But with Hearts now out of Europe following their Conference League playoff defeat to PAOK he has now formally returned to the role.

And he says he has always been at ease with what is expected of him and how he is valued at Tynecastle, where he spent four years as a player before hanging up his boots in 2021.

And ahead of this weekend’s game against Aberdeen, which he insists is not a must-win despite both sides at the wrong end of the table following disappointing starts to the campaign, he is confident he can get the best out of the squad.

Speaking to the press on Friday he said: “It hasn’t changed, because all along I’ve been comfortable with how I’m valued internally. That’s the way I see it, nothing changes. I don’t go from putting some stuff out at training and picking it up to not doing it anymore or doing anything different.

“Everything is the same, last season when I got the opportunity to take the team I understood how big a job it is and understood what I had to do to give myself a chance to get longer at it. I felt we equipped ourselves well with that and nothing’s changed.

“I’ve always felt proud to be able to manage the team and have the chance to hopefully build something at a club that is more than just a team that fans come and watch. There’s invested interest from all the fans and they want to be successful. So to try and lead that is exciting.

“I think if we continue to do what we do, when we do it well we will compete against any team.

“I don’t think (Saturday’s game at Tynecastle) is a must win, our performance levels need to be better and we need to be more aggressive when we are attacking, we need to carry more of a threat but we have a good squad that understands that.

“The experienced boys in the group are good, they’re comfortable to speak their mind and say what needs to be better. We have also recruited some younger players that are exciting but they are still learning the game a lot and need to understand the right times to play passes, when to keep the ball and when to try things.

“Like I said, success doesn’t come overnight but hopefully overtime everybody will see the success come.”

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