Former Hearts coach urged players to show they have quality and mental strength to beat drop

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Former Hearts assistant manager Billy Brown insists it is down to the players to show they have the quality and mental strength to avert a relegation disaster at Tynecastle.

And the experienced coach, who was number two to Gary Locke when the administration-hit team was demoted six years ago, insists everyone associated with the club must stand tall in the battle to avoid the drop.

The Gorgie outfit remain one point adrift of Hamilton at the Premiership basement after coming from two goals down to rescue a point against Accies on Saturday.

Hearts travel to third bottom St Mirren, who are only three points better off, on Friday in what has become another crucial encounter.

Manager Daniel Stendel conceded at the weekend that the pressure of the situation was affecting his players but Brown insists dealing with high expectation levels is par for the course at Hearts.

Brown, who was also number two to Jim Jefferies when Hearts lifted the Scottish Cup in 1998, said: “This St Mirren game has become massive and lets find out if the players can go out there and do the job.

“When Jim and I signed players, the Colin Camerons, the Neil McCanns, the Stevie Fultons, the Davie Weirs – we looked at them and said, ‘can you handle what the Hearts supporters expect?’ 

“These boys have the chance to play for one of the biggest clubs in Scotland and they have to start proving they can do it.

“Get out there and take the bull by the horns. We’ve said all season that the players are there but now it’s time they started showing that.

“They got us into it and they’re the only ones that can get us out of it.”

Hearts boss Stendel, who has only won one of his eleven league matches in charge – which was last month’s victory over Rangers – has praised the backing he has had from the supporters.

Brown insists that the fans also have a huge role to play during the remaining 11 games of the campaign.

He added: “Everybody has just got to be positive and get behind the team, get behind the club and lets get through relegation and look at the situation again. 

“Obviously this season has been a disaster and we just hope it does not finish with a real, real disaster. 

“There is no good being down now. Lets get behind the team, behind the cause and lets see if the players can rise to it. 

“The supporters have been fantastic and we’ve got got to get behind the team.”

Brown still thinks owner Ann Budge was right to opt for former Barnsley boss Stendel after Craig Levein was axed last October, even though the German has only collected seven points from a possible 33.

He added: “You have to remember they had only won one league game when Craig left. Changing the style and the attitude at the time didn’t look like a bad thing.

“The team was doing so badly that there had to be a change with everything and he’s come into a really difficult situation. 

“One win in eleven league games is not great but it’s very difficult to blame him.

“There is an improvement in that they’re on the front foot but when you do that you have to play really well. I don’t think that’s what is happening at the minute.”

 
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