Hearts v Celtic Preview: “If we can start fast, that will give ourselves the backing of the fans,” Naismith

Ange Postecoglou and Steven Naismith both spoke to the media yesterday afternoon ahead of Sunday’s game at Tynecastle where a Celtic win would see the Scottish Premiership title retained by Celtic and won for the eleventh time in twelve season, a truly remarkable achievement for the club.

Naismith is looking to ‘do a Barry Robson’ by having a successful audition for the job and giving the Hearts Board an easy decision to make in the summer regarding their next managerial appointment after the sacking of Robbie Neilson a few weeks ago.

Preventing Celtic from winning the title at Tynecastle (yet again) will be a feather in Naismith’s cap and so too will the points in the bag as he looks to secure a European spot and perhaps close the gap on Robson’s Aberdeen who are playing at Ibrox tomorrow afternoon.

Celtic Manager Ange Postecoglou embraces former Celtic manager Martin O Neill after Celtic were presented with the Cinch Scottish Premiership trophy on the final day of last season. Celtic v Motherwell, Cinch Scottish Premiership, 14 May 2022 . Photo by Stuart Walllace/Shutterstock

Ange Postecoglou certainly enjoys taking his team to play Hearts because after that opening day defeat last season, which was the Australian manager’s first competitive league match in charge of Celtic, he has never looked back and Tynecastle has been a happy hunting ground in the league and cup for the Champions-Elect.

“Yeah, it’s a great atmosphere and it’s a great venue and it’s always a good game,” Ange noted at Friday’s Media Conference. “There’s always a little bit of it feeling like it’s a big game. I think from our perspective it’s a good place cause as I said for us to get the outcome we want then we’re going to have to earn it.

Celtic v Hibernian – cinch Premiership – Celtic Park Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou waves to fans as he arrives at Celtic Park before the match at Celtic Park on: Saturday March 18, 2023. Photo Steve Welsh

“Hearts have still got plenty to play for this year and they’ve got a new manager in Steven Naismith who’s come in. I don’t know him that well, but everyone I’ve spoken to rates him really highly and they like the way he’s gone about his business so far, in terms of the way he speaks about what he wants to achieve.

“It’s going to be a good game and if we want to end up with the outcome that we want, we’re going to have to earn it and that’s the way it should be,” the Celtic manager stated.

Asked whether it could turn out to be a tense game, with both teams having so much to play for, Postecoglou could see that being the way the game goes but also understands that it could go the other way and end up being a match where both teams through everything at it to score goals and win the points.

Kyogo Furuhashi of Celtic scores his team’s second goal during the Heart of Midlothian v Celtic Scottish Cup match at Tynecastle Stadium on March 11, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“Yeah, to a certain extent, you just don’t know with these games, it could be tense. It could be a little bit more open because both teams are looking for a result,” Ange said.

“So yeah, we have just got to be ready for whatever sort of game it is but the most important thing for us is just to keep our heads clear and be focused on playing our football and making sure that from our perspective we don’t get too distracted by other things happening either prior to or during the game.

“It’s just got to be real clear-headedness that we’ve got to play our football, as that gives us our best chance of success.”

Meanwhile the interim Hearts boss Steven Naismith had to sit out last weekend with no game which probably wasn’t ideal after their sparkling 6-1 hammering of relegation candidates Ross County the previous weekend.

The former Scotland international striker isn’t sure whether the break – which was caused by Celtic knocking Hearts out of the Scottish Cup – was a good thing or not.

“You can look at it both ways, but I think the break probably came at a good time for us,” Naismith said, as reported by Football Scotland.

 Hearts interim manager Steven Naismith speaks to the media during the Heart of Midlothian press conference at Oriam Sports Performance Centre, Edinburgh. Photo Malcolm Mackenzie PSI

“We got a lot of work done on the training pitch and you can see the contrast between our first performance and our second performance that there was a change and that just comes from having more time on the training pitch and more meetings.

“Every game for us from now until the end of the season is huge. Not many people will give us a chance, but our focus is getting as many points as we can in these last few games and then we will give ourselves a good chance of getting into those European places, where the club wants to be.

“If we can start fast, that will give ourselves the backing of the fans. That gives us more confidence on the pitch, which leads to us making better decisions, creating more chances, and scoring more goals. We did that against Ross County and hopefully, we can do that again on Sunday.”

Here’s Naismith’s thoughts on Ange Postecoglou, who the Hearts manager admires…

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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