Steven Naismith Named Interim Manager of Hearts Ahead of Edinburgh Derby
Steven Naismith is the new interim manager of Hearts – and he walks straight into a daunting derby debut away to Hibernian on Saturday afternoon (15th April).
The 36-year-old Football Careers client was handed the reins at Tynecastle after the shock sacking of Robbie Neilson earlier this week.
With seven games remaining, faltering Hearts have been overhauled by Aberdeen in the chase for third slot in the Scottish Premiership with seven crunch games left. That saw the Jambos board act and Hearts B Team Head Coach Naisy — who also works with the national team in Scotland boss Steve Clarke’s successful set-up — now has what is in effect an audition for the top job.
Hearts Chief Executive Andrew McKinlay said: “I am delighted to say that Steven Naismith has agreed to take over as interim manager until the end of the season.
“Steven has played the game at the highest level possible and has taken great strides forward in his coaching career with the club’s B Team and at international level with Scotland.
“He will be assisted by Gordon Forrest, who I am also pleased to say has agreed to remain with the club, and Frankie McAvoy who has a wealth of top-level experience and has built up a great working relationship with Steven through the B Team.
“We have great faith in Steven, Gordon, and Frankie and will give them the best support possible as we aim to finish the season as strongly as possible.
“We enter a crucial period of the season, with two games remaining until the split, followed by a further five matches. With what is at stake, it is no exaggeration to say that we are facing seven cup finals. We had a taste of group-stage European football this season and have, in many ways, reaped the benefits. Our aim has always been to repeat this feat and that target has not changed, despite what has transpired recently.
“Our supporters have backed the team in magnificent fashion in huge numbers, home and away, all season. I ask them to continue to do this, to get behind Steven, Gordon, Frankie and the team for the remaining seven games and help us to achieve our goal. By standing together we will give ourselves the best chance of winning football matches, building momentum, and reclaiming third spot, and the prizes associated with it.”
Naismith the player had a stellar career with Kilmarnock, Rangers, Everton, Norwich City and Hearts. When injury forced his retirement after 516 professional games and 130 goals the 51-times capped former Scotland star was a natural to move into the world of coaching.
Hearts legend Jim Jefferies was a key figure in Steven’s rise as a player at Killie and he said: “He’s suited to management and coaching. He’s his own guy. I’ve worked with him. He has strong views about certain things but in the right way.
“He’ll be a guy determined to make sure things go well. You need to make decisions and stick by them. If you keep taking advice and it doesn’t work out you’re the one who has to be answerable.
“People like myself are at the end of the phone if he needs any advice or a quick word. I’m sure he will have plenty of people like that. But it’s best to be your own man and do what you think is right. Then you can blame no one else if it goes wrong, but get all the credit if it goes right!
“He’ll get huge respect from the players. He will have his own ideas, but if it comes down to working and attitude, he will drive them on. That’s his nature.
“As he got older he would give refs a hard time and he wasn’t slow to tell his teammates it wasn’t good enough. He has been involved with coaching with Scotland and I’m sure Stevie Clarke has helped him a lot and given him some confidence to go in with international players. He always looked like someone who would want to do that.”
Now Football Careers client Steven has that baptism of fire to look forward to this weekend in the big Edinburgh showdown. Whatever happens next, there is no question it is one he will face with relish.