Steven Naismith has urged Hearts fans to have patience as he looks to improve the team’s performances and results.
The Hearts manager has found himself criticised by a section of the support, with the team currently fifth in the Premiership after the first round of fixtures, and having lost the Viaplay Cup semi-final to Rangers last weekend.
That result meant the Tynecastle club have only one win in their last five games, and Naismith under some pressure to turn things around.
The tight nature of the league, where only nine points separate third from 11th, offers an opportunity for any club to rise quickly if they put together a string of positive results and Naismith takes encouragement from that.
“It helps in this situation but we want to be that team that is having that consistency, putting points on the board and effectively creating a gap,” he said ahead of Saturday’s trip to Motherwell.
“After one round of games, it’s very tight and this next round of games are very important for most teams in the league.”
The cup defeat disappointed the manager, who hasn’t changed his targets and expectations for the club. but he warned that reaching those goals may yet take some time.
“I firmly believe the club should be challenging for third, being in Europe and trying to win silverware,” he said.
“That’s definitely got to be the aim.
“To get there, you sometimes take a setback, and getting knocked out of the semi-final of a cup is a setback but if we can then go into the next competition and get closer and maybe win it, that shows there has been progress.
“But progression is not going to happen from one day to the next.
“You’ve got to give it time, accept there are good points and bad points, but if you reflect over a period of time and the club is moving in the right direction, that is progress which then leads to success.
“As a player, I’ve been at clubs that have a demand to win. I’ve been at clubs where the style’s changed from one extreme to the other and you’ve got to believe in the process and have a real belief that this will work.
“I’ve been through it and that’s what I draw on. That’s why I believe that we will be successful because I’ve seen it in the past as a player and we’re not far away.”
Asked for a message to supporters who doubt that he will be a success after a mixed start to his time as a manager, he accepted that criticism is part and parcel.
“I don’t think there’s anything I can say,” he said. “Everybody’s got their opinion.
“Everybody thinks they understand what it takes to be successful and what should be done. But when you’ve got a large fanbase, there will be a lot of different opinions within that group.
“When you’re at a big club the criticism will be there when you’re not winning games. Internally we all still believe what we are doing will bring us success.
“We’ve seen progression from where we were in the summer to now. In the games it’s been small margins that have cost us. If we can cut that out, I believe (things will improve). This round of games is important for us.”
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