HEARTS captain Steven Naismith admits a lack of character within the team was the reason last season descended into a ‘farce’.
The Gorgie outfit will be condemned to the Championship unless they can halt their relegation through the courts.
Hearts were four points adrift in the Premiership basement with only four wins from 30 games when the campaign came to a premature end.
And vastly experienced Scotland international Naismith insists there were not enough players standing up to take responsibility for their woeful form.
Naismith said: “If I’m honest there’s probably been a general acceptance and not enough people around the club just saying, ‘right, I’m going to drag this and get us where we need to go’.
“There’s not been enough in that camp that’s managed to do that, which has caused trouble in the season just past there, which has ultimately ended in farce.
“We didn’t have a good season for a reason, and that’s because we did not have enough around the squad, in the squad to control games and win you games. That’s been the biggest problem in the last season.”
However, Naismith, who first moved to Tynecastle initially on loan from Norwich City in January 2018, insists everything is in place for Hearts, who recently reappointed Robbie Neilson as manager, to become a force in Scottish football once more.
He added: “With the infrastructure, the facilities, the whole structure of the business, rather than just the football, it’s in great condition.
“It’s one of those that with some changes can definitely flourish in Scotland.
“When I first got into the team at Kilmarnock, Hearts were the third biggest team in Scotland.
“Everybody loves playing at Tynecastle, it’s all there.”
Daniel Stendel replaced Craig Levein in the dugout in December but failed to oversee an upturn in the club’s fortunes.
The German also made it clear that reputations matter little to him after sending captain Christophe Berra on loan to Dundee and freeing experienced Republic of Ireland midfielder Glenn Whelan.
Naismith admits he was taken aback by the former Barnsley manager’s approach.
Speaking to the Lockdown Tactics podcast, he added: “The one thing the manager did when he came in in January, he made it clear to everybody that this was a blank slate, ‘because of what you’ve done or who you are doesn’t mean I’ll be seeing you in a different light’.
“It was like, ‘I’m going to watch you all in training and decide who I want’ and that’s how he went.
“I was surprised – I must say, yes.
“You had 20,25 guys all trying to get in this guy’s team so subconsciously there was a bit of rivalry between everybody there, trying to make sure you were in his plans.
“That was the main feeling I would say.”