Fans must make the difference for SPFL strugglers Hearts: Gary Locke

05 August 2013 12:32

Hearts manager Gary Locke believes the Tynecastle club's fans can make the difference this season as his side battle to remain in the Scottish Premiership.

The Jambos have started the season with a 15-point deduction and a transfer embargo as punishment for entering administration with debts totalling £28.4million (32,693,725 euros) in the summer.

It will be a daunting prospect for a club that is not only battling for its very survival but that has lost a host of first team stars and finished just 14 points above the relegation spot last season.

However, the Hearts fans appear energised by their off-field problems and their vociferous travelling support made up the majority of the 6,174 inside McDiarmid Park on Sunday.

Despite their ferocious support, they couldn't roar their side on to a vital victory as a Stevie May first half strike handed St Johnstone a 1-0 win

But Hearts manager Locke is in no doubt at the part the supporters can play in his side's relegation battle this season.

"They are worth everything to us. I felt it was really important during the warm-up and after the game that the players acknowledged them because at the end of the day if it wasn't for them we wouldn't be here," Locke said

"If we get that backing all season I'm hoping that the players can respond in the right way and give them the results that they deserve.

"There is no doubt about it that they can be the difference for us, especially having such a young team.

"You saw today that they stuck by us right until the end of the game and they are going to have a huge part to play this season."

Despite their ongoing problems, the Hearts starting line-up, although peppered with youngsters, included some familiar names but Locke's squad is threadbare and lacks experience.

And with a crucial derby match against Edinburgh rivals Hibernian at Tynecastle next weekend, Locke knows there must be an instant improvement from his inexperienced side.

"There was not a lot of quality on show and we lost a poor goal as well," the Jambos boss said.

"We have to do better when we do create chances in the final third. If you don't shoot then you are never going to score so we are going to have to brush up on that.

"It's a long season and we battled well enough against a really good side that are really high in confidence at the minute but we are going to have to do better in terms of our deliveries from set plays and our final ball in the final third.

"We would have obviously liked to have started eating into the points deduction as quickly as possible but it wasn't to be.

"One thing is for sure we won't feel sorry for ourselves. We have another cracking game next week and it's a game we have to try and pick up points in."

Hearts captain Danny Wilson is excited by the prospect of a derby match so early into the league campaign and hopes the Tynecastle club can use it to kick-start their campaign.

"Derbies are great levellers no matter what your form is going into them," the former Rangers and Liverpool defender said.

"We are looking forward to it. It's our first home game of the season and it's a derby so it should be a great occasion.

"We didn't do ourselves much justice today and we can only look forward to next week.

"The games are coming thick and fast now and we have a long season ahead of us and we just need to stick together and push on from here.

"The fans were excellent today. If you have them behind you then you can beat anyone.

"Hopefully we can do that next week and it will be a sell-out with a great crowd behind us."

Source: AFP

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