Daniel Stendel to adopt dangerous Hearts approach vs Celtic

By David Walton

December 16, 2019

Hearts manager Daniel Stendel’s style may not suit the players he currently has, but he admits he’ll do the same again on Wednesday night against Celtic.

Stendel lost his first game in charge of the Gorgie side on Saturday. The Jambos played with a high line and conceded plenty of chances as they tried to enforce Stendel’s counter-pressing approach.

In the end, it led to Saints getting far too much space in between the defence and goalkeeper. The Hearts shot-stopper Zdenek Zlamal almost had to play as a sweeper-keeper at times.

Daniel Stendel’s counter-pressing was on show as Hearts lost to St Johnstone (George Wood/Getty Images)

Yet despite that, Stendel is insistent that they’ll use the same approach against Celtic. Speaking to BBC Sportsound after his side’s defeat to Saints (19:45), the German addressed the Celtic match:

“We’ll play the same style but have a better game. Okay, I think the expectation on Wednesday isn’t so high and I hope the players can play with less pressure.

“It’s a different kind of game, but we want to play and win the fans back. I hope we can do it on Wednesday.”

Stendel will need to get swift footage of Celtic

If Stendel even has a notion for playing the same style against us that he adopted on Saturday, his Hearts side could be in big trouble. It would seem as though he hasn’t seen us play once this season.

Trying to get into Celtic’s faces is, as we know, par for the course at Tynecastle. Hearts have always been an aggressive side when they play against us, and that will likely shine through once again.

Neil Lennon will be looking for yet another win at Tynecastle (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

However, Stendel’s way of playing ensures that his defence are also pressing in an attempt to keep his side on the front foot. Is that something he should really consider with James Forrest, Ryan Christie, Mikey Johnston, and Odsonne Edouard all potentially available?

It feels like he’s handing the game to us on a platter by playing like that.

You could even make a small case for Hearts if they had Uche Ikpeazu and Steven Naismith available. Should neither feature, they really wouldn’t have the talent to get in Celtic’s faces at the back. Ikpeazu is already suspended (Edinburgh Evening News), whilst Naismith has missed the last two matches through injury.

Uche Ikpeazu won’t feature for Hearts on Wednesday night (Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Should both miss out, it could be Steven MacLean who’s given the task to give us the runaround. Good luck with that given his lack of pace and power. It could be a long night for Hearts if they get too overambitious on Wednesday.

We know we’re going to be in for a game – we always are at Tynecastle. But if Stendel even thinks that Hearts have the players to press high against us, it should work extremely well in our favour.