Hearts captain Alim Ozturk insists criticism of the team in the wake of their painful Scottish Cup defeat to Hibs is unfair.
The defender missed Tuesday’s painful 1-0 loss at Easter Road due to suspension but the 23-year-old has been surprised by the reaction from some supporters, especially when the side is sitting comfortably in third place and on course to qualify for Europe.
Ozturk, who is set to return for today’s trip to crisis-club Dundee United, said: “Of course, when you lose to your rivals there will be fans disappointed but have you seen what the manager has done here in the last two years?
“He has done really well. We’re third in the league and doing well for a team that has just been promoted. I don’t understand the criticism.
“It’s always tough to lose, but you’ve got to accept it’s part of the game as well.
“It’s one of the biggest games here, even if there is a league between us.
“It’s really important for us to finish in the top three now and we have a big chance.
“We’ll do everything we can to stay there.”
Head coach Neilson, whose team have only been defeated once in their last 16 Premiership matches, has not been immune to the criticism but Ozturk insists the 35-year-old’s coaching style impresses him.
Ozturk added: “He is a young man but he is really calm and I like that. He is never stressing, he is always quiet and that gives you a good feeling as a player.
“If you see a gaffer that is stressing, you’ll maybe stress out as well. But he is always quiet and that gives me confidence as a player.”