A forewarning to Hearts as Tynecastle adopts a callous approach

Even if they are ahead of third place by 12 points, management is not giving up.

Hearts’ brutal mindset is further evidenced by head coach Steven Naismith’s unwavering determination to persevere even with a 12-point Premiership lead. After a 3-2 victory over Dundee on Saturday, Riccarton’s lead in third place was increased, but with 14 league games left, nobody can rest easy.

Naismith is optimistic that the first-team group has the motivation they need to keep winning the Scottish Cup and Premiership. Although happy with his team’s point differential, Naismith won’t allow any concessions to be made between now and May. Hearts has won eight of its last nine games and drawn one, collecting 34 of the 42 league points that were available.

Speaking to the Edinburgh News, Naismith said he appreciates the pressure players place on one another and cautioned anyone who believed there was a ceiling on players’ individual or team potential at Tynecastle. “I believe that our group is motivated. The guys put a lot of pressure on one another. The fact that we’ve been getting better at every phase of the season is really thrilling. Everyone has accepted the significant changes that have occurred,” he remarked.

“We all have personal aspirations and strive to improve. Furthermore, as a team, what can we truly accomplish here? Let’s see how much better every aspect of the game can get come summertime, considering how much better it has been this season.

“At the conclusion of the season, you’ll consider whether or not it was a good one. Though a lot of good work has been done, how much better can we go? This presents a challenge. Even with a great season coming to a conclusion, the question for the next one is always, “Right, can we be better?” Can our group performance improve? Can we improve?

“Your ultimate goal is to reach your objectives. Everyone has different aspirations, be it to join their national team, play in a higher division, or relocate to play football in Europe. It’s basically a never-ending pursuit of improvement.

It is not sufficient to decelerate and conclude, ‘Well, we’ve accomplished a great deal of good work.’ Being a professional football player means never letting up. Because your career is brief, you must make the most of every moment to achieve the greatest possible game experience.

“Any player who limits himself will not be around for very long, in my opinion. You lose motivation, insight into what genuinely motivates you to get out of bed in the morning, and clarity on your objectives. You truly are of no service to us if you lose it or don’t have it.”

The nine-game unbeaten streak is based on character, which was demonstrated once more on Saturday. Naismith’s team showed their resiliency once more on Tayside, having overcome deficits to win 3-2 against Dundee last month and to come back from a 2-0 hole to tie 2-2 with Ross County in December.

Alan Forrest equalized the score after Jordan McGhee’s header had put them behind 1-0. Dundee led 2-1 thanks to Lyall Cameron, but Lawrence Shankland’s penalty tied the score at 2-2. After that, on minute 88, the unstoppable Shankland scored the game-winning goal to give Hearts three points. Naismith praised the tenacity and fighting spirit of his team.

“In my time as a player here, it was something that was questioned,” he stated. It’s all part of our process of maturing as a team and learning new things. We have challenges because different teams have varied setups, and we won’t always get it perfect. So what happens when you give in?

“We always carry out the proper actions. We didn’t score the goals on Saturday by accident. We kept playing and probing, and eventually we got the goal late in the cup against Spartans. We don’t just play long, give them a chance to defend, and then flip the ball so it’s 50/50 your way. It was the same at home against Dundee and against Ross County.

“I felt that we gave a decent performance on Saturday. It has a few minor details. It’s made worse by the subpar goals we lost, but I felt like we posed a danger the entire time. We generated opportunities throughout the entire game. Everyone on the team is exhibiting that character in spades as they develop and become more understanding of one another.”

At full time, over 2,500 Hearts supporters arrived at Dens Park to celebrate an incredible victory. “I thought the fans were good,” NBA player Naismith remarked. Since we were still in the game and posed a threat, I believed that there was an understanding when we fell behind. We are having more possession and opportunities than we have in a long time in more games. That’s the source of the irritation. “We should be in front and if we’re not, it’s not good enough,” is the pressure you sense.

“You have to dismantle teams, wait for the right moment, and when it does, the game becomes open. Another victory on Saturday only serves to maintain the momentum. Teams will give up points if we continue to triumph. A few teams in our vicinity suffered defeats over the weekend, and playing Dundee away is difficult. At Dens Park, they will prevail in more games than not.”

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