Hearts: Stendel predicts relegation fight will go down to final day

Hearts manager Daniel Stendel has predicted that his side’s fight for Scottish Premiership survival will go down the final day of the season.

The Jambos’ emphatic 3-1 derby win over Hibernian on Tuesday night lifted them off the foot of the table for a mere 24 hours, before Hamilton’s shock victory over Rangers the following night dragged them back to the foot of the table.

Stendel believes that his team will need to drag other sides into the basement battle and thinks that the fight for survival will go right down to the wire despite an upturn in form.

“We have five games left [before the split]. The situation is not comfortable for us, but it hasn’t changed,” he said. “We knew it would be good if we won this game, but it still hasn’t changed for us.

“It’s important we collect more points; not that we look to Hamilton every time, but we collect our points. We let a lot of points slip, and the time is over for us to do this again. When we win our points, we don’t depend on the others.

“We need more results. Sometimes we will win games and other times the other team will win games. I think it will be decided on the last game.

“The first time all season we won two big games in a row. It’s a good sign that we can do it.”

Stendel has recently abandoned his favoured gegenpressing approach for a more disciplined style of play, and impressive victories over the Hibees and Rangers have renewed optimism in what has been a disappointing season so far.

“I think this is the first time this season we won two big games in a row. It shows we can do it,” he said.

“The kind of play in both games is the main point for me to take from the games. We showed a mentality on Tuesday, and our discipline was important.

“The situation is good for me and the players. We have more experiences when we work together, and when we do work together and have the right discipline and behaviours on the pitch, we will get the chances to win the game.”

Hearts face a Motherwell side who claimed an impressive 4-1 victory over Ross County on Wednesday. The Jambos will still be without Toby Sibbick as he remains out through illness, though the defender may be back in training next week.

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Daniel Stendel: Hearts boss demands improvement as his side aims for Scottish Cup fifth round tie against Falkirk


Hearts manager Daniel Stendel has called on his side to bounce back from midweek disappointment when they take on Falkirk tomorrow night in the Scottish Cup fifth round.

The Jambos go into Saturday’s game off the back of a 3-2 home defeat to Kilmarnock, a result which left the Edinburgh side bottom of the Scottish Premiership.

Stendel said: “I think Wednesday was a big disappointment, we want to play so much better than we played. This situation is passed and the future is Falkirk tomorrow.

“We keep our confidence and we try to change it. This is pressure, yes, but everyone has this in professional football, we have to win.”

The German has declared that he will keep faith in goalkeeper Joel Pereira after a string of high-profile errors from the goalkeeper, having let in six goals in their last two games.

He said: “I am happy with our goalkeepers. Yes, we know that there was a mistake especially with the third goal [against Kilmarnock]. It’s not one player at fault for conceding the goals.

“Yes, when a goalkeeper makes a mistake everyone can see it but we train and we looked after him and we decided together [to play him].”

Saturday’s opponents Falkirk needed a replay to reach the fifth round, beating Arbroath 2-0 after a goalless first tie, with former Jambos striker Conor Sammon amongst the goal scorers, while Hearts defeated Airdrie 5-0 at Tynecastle.

The Bairns sit second in League One and are unbeaten since the appointment of management duo Lee Miller and David McCracken in November last year.

Stendel is looking to use the cup as a way to pick up Hearts’ league fortunes.

He said: “We can use every game to lift ourselves after Wednesday, it’s a good chance to show our ambitions. We want to win this game and get into the next round. We want to win every game but especially we demand to show that we can play better.”

“Your dream is to win the cup, whether in Scotland or in Germany. The chance is there, we stand at the moment in the league at the bottom but I think that we can win against every team.

“At the moment, we have some difficult situations in the league but if we play how we can play, we showed that we can win.”

Michael Smith is back in contention for selection, after missing the last four games with injury.

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