Hearts boss Daniel Stendel has said that he did not expect his new side’s confidence to be so low and wants his more experience players to lead a change in mentality at the club.
Stendel has been tasked with reversing the club’s fortunes and saw the team lose at home to St Johnstone in his first game in charge.
He’s now preparing for the visit of Celtic on Wednesday night and admits that imposing a new style of play is secondary to lifting spirtis and belief.
“I didn’t expect that the confidence would be so low,” Stendel said. “I hoped I could change it quicker but they didn’t lose it the previous week, it was over a long time. I hope we don’t need so much time to change it.
“The advantage is the expectation on Wednesday is not so high. As we say in Germany, we can only win.”
“The main thing at the moment is not the style, the main thing is to change the heads. I am positive, I like to change things, I like to look forward and I want to bring this into the group.”
Stendel said that discussions with the squad had left him perplexed, as experienced players seemed to be low in confidence and found the situation inexplicable.
“I have no idea what has happened but I have had some talks with players, some experienced players with a lot of professional games in their careers, not 20 or 25, and they cannot explain whey they feel so low in confidence,” he said.
“It’s crazy that our youngest player had the most confidence on the pitch but we can change it.
“I think when Steven Naismith comes back he will give other players confidence. We need some individual players to have more confidence on the pitch, to ask for balls, to take more responsibility. This is the start to change things.
“When you look at the squad and the names and experience, you think you can talk and get some information on what has happened. But it’s not too easy to get information because sometimes I have the feeling from the players they don’t really know why they have lost confidence.”
The German coach called on club captain Christophe Berra and midfielder Glenn Whelan to lead the way by taking responsibility.
He added: “When you have played 400 games in professional football and played for big clubs in England, when things don’t work in a game like Saturday, what can happen?
“You have had a career before. The supporters are not happy, yes, you can blame this a bit but play your game. After this go home and next week it’s the next game and in two years you have stopped your career. Nothing will happen.
“When you are 20 you want to have a career and play successful football and play every week, then you have a little pressure to play without mistakes.
“But not when you are 30, 32, 33, whatever. Come on, play for me, make a mistake, it doesn’t matter, ask for the next ball. This is what we need.
“I know Glenn Whelan can take more responsibility on the pitch, and Christophe, we have a lot of players who can take more responsibility.”