Naismith admits his career could be shaped by next three matches

The 36-year-old former Jambos skipper was handed the reins last month until the end of the season.

Steven Naismith admits his career could be shaped by Hearts’ next three matches SNS Group

Steven Naismith admits Hearts’ next three matches will go a long way to deciding whether he is considered for the manager’s job on a permanent basis.

The 36-year-old former Jambos skipper was handed the reins last month until the end of the season following the sacking of Robbie Neilson.

Hearts, who are five points behind Aberdeen in the battle for third place in the cinch Premiership, have taken four points from four matches under Naismith, whose side finish the campaign with home games against the Dons and city rivals Hibernian either side of a trip to Rangers next Wednesday.

“Without a shadow of a doubt,” said Naismith when asked if he expects the remaining matches to impact on what the Hearts board choose to do next.

“All along, the club asked me to take the team until the end of the season and then we’ll review things at the end of the season.

“We’re halfway along that, and these next three games are without doubt going to have an impact on what happens.

“That might not just be on results, it’s about our performances, the way we play, how we do in the games. There’s loads of aspects to what decision will be made by the club.

“For me, it’s been a brilliant experience so far. I’ve loved every minute of it and I think I’ve done a good job so far.”

Asked if he wants to continue in the role, Naismith – who had been working as Hearts B team manager since hanging up his boots – said: “I‘ll decide that probably at the end of the season.

“It’s been great, I’ve loved it, there’s not been many negatives at all. But I’ve always said the decision needs to be right for me about when I’m going to be a manager and where that is. I’m trying not to get too carried away one way or another.

“There’s been no talks about anything beyond this season and I’m comfortable with it that way.”

Naismith expressed concern about the ongoing struggles with VAR’s implementation in Scottish football after Hearts midfielder Peter Haring had his red card in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with St Mirren downgraded to a yellow upon appeal this week.

The interim manager remains baffled that VAR did not ask referee David Dickinson to review the Austrian’s challenge on Mark O’Hara at a time when Hearts were trailing 2-1.

“The biggest disappointment for me is that our last two games have had an impact from VAR and on both accounts I feel they’ve not been right,” said Naismith.

“The first week (when Alex Cochrane was sent off against Celtic after being deemed to have denied a goal-scoring opportunity) it steps in and makes a call and the decision was made.

“And then the total lack of consistency last week (that VAR did not intervene). I was right in front of the decision on Saturday and I could see it was not a red card.

“The fourth official was right next to me, the ref was up with play and the assistant referee was on the side of pitch, and all had great views of the incident.

“They all missed it and the decision was made. But then we’ve got the fail-safe (of VAR) that hopefully gets all these big decisions right, and for that to fail as well is really disappointing.

“It makes people not believe in it. Before this came in we knew there was going to be teething issues but it seems to be all season it’s been like this, which is disappointing.”

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