Steven Naismith lauded his Hearts team for taking command of the race for third place in the cinch Premiership after “getting battered” with criticism during a slow start to the season.
The Jambos moved 10 points clear of fourth-place Kilmarnock on Saturday as a Jorge Grant penalty and a 19th goal of the season for Lawrence Shankland secured a 2-0 win over Aberdeen.
It was a 10th victory in 13 league games for the Edinburgh side, who came under fire in the autumn after winning just three of their opening 10.
“We are in a very good position,” said Naismith. “Our form recently has been really good. After a slow start and getting battered in the press, we have continued to just get on with our business.
“Internally we are comfortable and we are getting our rewards from that. We don’t panic. We didn’t panic against Spartans (in the Scottish Cup), we played to the end and got our goal.
“We were 2-0 down against Dundee and came back. But we have got to see it as, any successful player’s mentality is always ‘I’m doing well, but how can I get to the next bit?’
“Whether you’re a young player breaking into the team or Shanks scoring goals, it’s always ‘how can we be better?’. We are building that mentality and that’s what we need to have.”
Naismith insisted he never doubted that things would come good, even when his team were languishing in the bottom six earlier in the campaign and he was coming under fire from supporters.
“I’ve experienced it as a player,” he said. “I’ve had managers come in that are completely different to the previous one or making lots of changes, and it takes time.
“We are unfortunately in an era of instant success and if that’s not happening then you’re done, you’re not good enough.
“The thing that gave me lots of confidence was a lot of our players were improving day-to-day and we could see it. But the hard part is to do it on a Saturday when there are loads of people watching you, and nerves come into it.
“But once you can start dealing with that and you trust yourself, you improve. At the end of the day I go home and I have got a wife and two kids that are more important than any football game.”
Aberdeen boss Barry Robson was the subject of calls from some supporters to leave towards the end of Saturday’s match, while Jambos fans goaded him with chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” as his team slipped to eighth in the table.
“From the minute I have been here I have been under pressure as an Aberdeen manager,” said Robson.
“Anyone who has been an Aberdeen manager will tell you that, and I’m no different.
“I understand the club, I know the club and I know the demands of the club, so I get that but we need to keep going and keep working.
“It is frustrating when there are a couple of decisions that have not been great and we didn’t perform for 20 to 25 minutes.”
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