The Sunday Post (Newcastle)
Jambos’ boss is just champion, insists goal hero
Liam Boyce has paid tribute to manager Robbie Neilson as Hearts were crowned Championship title winners.
The Gorgie outfit, who hammered Alloa 6-0 on Friday night, took the honours yesterday after nearest challengers Dundee and Raith Rovers dropped points.
The league triumph comes in the wake of Neilson facing calls for his sacking from fans.
Prior to Friday evening, Hearts had won only two wins from nine outings, including the embarrassing Scottish Cup loss to Brora Rangers.
External discussion surrounding Neilson’s future is likely to continue, but Boyce insists the players are the ones to blame for recent under par performances.
The Northern Ireland international, who bagged a hat-trick against the Wasps, said: “There are high expectations and we know the fans always want more and they’re totally within their rights.
“As footballers we want more, when there are questions on the gaffer, it should be us that are questioned.
“It’s us on the pitch with our performances and we know how hard the gaffer works and we went out there to prove a point.
“Friday was the kind of performance that was needed.
“Everyone was disappointed after the recent Queen of the South defeat and we sat down and had a chat.
“We knew after the Brora result that confidence takes a bit of a hit and we weren’t doing the right things and making the right decisions.
“We let it all out and thankfully we came out on Friday and did the right things and made the right options.”
Some 15 wins from 24 league outings have not been enough to satisfy all the Hearts fans and Boyce concedes even he did not appreciate how challenging second-tier football would be.
He added: “At the start of the season we were flying, scoring six, fives and fours every week and you think it’s easy.
“Then you come up against teams who are not doing so well, they set up to defend, it makes it a lot tougher and we’re going to some stadiums where it is tough to go to.
“It’s just the way it is and I underestimated it as well.”
Boyce picked up the man of the match Champagne on Friday but admits he believes 20-year-old Euan Henderson was the standout performer.
He added: “Hendo is brilliant, you can see his pace and I think he needs to believe in himself a bit more.
“He’s brilliant on the training pitch, he comes and asks you questions and advice and stuff.”