On-Field Fight Has To Match Off-Field Efforts
Time for Hearts players to show they can deliver more effort
Ryan Stevenson and his team-mates have not enjoyed themselves much this week but are looking forward to the game against Aberdeen. After the derby defeat against Hibs of last Sunday, Stevenson believes the onus is on the Hearts players to improve their on-field fortunes. The midfielder left Hearts for Ipswich last January, upset at persistent delays in wage payments, but returned to Tynecastle in August, despite the threat of more financial problems. While some wage delays have occured, Stevenson is confident action is being taken to stabilise the club and has called for the players to do their bit. He said: "This time it's been dealt with a lot better by everyone. All I asked for was honesty. That's all the fans ask for. That's what we as players ask for. We can't really use what's happening off the park as an excuse now. More than anything we need to start stepping up to the plate on the pitch and put the off-field stuff to one side. Off the park we're trying to get there and I think we will get there. Everyone at Tynecastle from Sergejus (director Sergejus Fedotovas) to David (Southern, the managing director), everyone that's down there is working their tails off to try to make sure the club stays safe. It's time we start doing that on the park as well. It's down to the players to produce it on the pitch. We're the only ones who can turn it round." Hearts find themselves in ninth place in the SPL with just nine points separating second-placed Hibs. Just a coupe of wins can change everything this season and Hearts also have a Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final against Inverness next month to look forward to. With this in mind, Stevenson is focused on the positives. He said: "It's been a difficult week for everyone, but you have to move on. If you dwell on it and you let these things affect you you're going to go into the game on Saturday in a negative mindset. It was a massive low for us, but the games come around thick and fast just now and it's another very tough game for us at home to Aberdeen and it's one we need to go into positive. On the park it's been a difficult time since I came back. We've got a lot of young boys, who you've got to remember this is only their first year in the SPL. We haven't done as well as we probably should've done, but we're nine points behind Hibs, who are having this 'unbelievable' season, and we're in a cup semi-final. Yes, we're not where we want to be just now, but you win three or four games, everything turns around quickly. We could go into the Hibs derby on January 3 and things could be totally different." January will mark 12 months since Stevenson's left Hearts, but he insists this season's developments have not been too great a concern. Stevenson said: "I genuinely wasn't that bothered. I came back to it with my eyes opened. I knew what I was coming back to, I knew this could happen again. If I wanted to go for the easier option I could have gone to other places, but for me, this is, outside Celtic, the biggest club in the SPL. It's where I want to play week-in, week-out. When things are going well it's amazing. Things aren't going well just now. This is a low point for us as a collective. We'll get out of it, I'm sure."
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