Robbie Neilson has challenged Hearts to maintain their unbeaten start into the second round of cinch Premiership fixtures.
The Tynecastle side have played all 11 league rivals and are yet to lose. If they avoid defeat at Aberdeen on Saturday, they will equal the feat of George Burley’s highly-regarded Hearts team – of which Neilson was a part – who went 12 games without loss at the start of the 2005-06 campaign.
The manager said: “The boys have done very well to go through the games undefeated. There’s a tinge of disappointment that we didn’t pick up as many points as we probably deserved to, especially towards the latter end when we’ve drawn quite a number of games.
“It’s a good achievement to go unbeaten through the first round of fixtures but it starts again against Aberdeen.”
Hearts are currently third in the table, three points behind leaders Rangers. Sporting director Joe Savage said in an interview this week that the club must strive to win the league, and Neilson agrees they should be aiming high.
The manager said: “Our aspirations are to be at the top end of the league. We all know that with the way Scottish football is, the disparity in finances makes it very difficult to get there, but our aim has got to be to try and be there.
“If we just aim for middle of the road, we’ll get middle of the road, so we’ve got to aim high. It’s going to be very difficult but we would like to be there.”
Hearts were held to a third consecutive draw away to St Johnstone in midweek and Neilson admits they need to find that bit extra composure and quality in the final third.
He said: “I’m pleased with the way we performed on Wednesday, the way we controlled the game and the chances we created, but we didn’t get the three points. It’s just that final moment we need to add to turn that from a draw into a victory.
“We had a lot of possession against last season’s double cup winners, a team that’s been very good defensively and a team that’s very good at home. To go there and control the majority of the game was great, but that final moment is the key for us.”
Hearts face another testing away game at Pittodrie when they meet an Aberdeen side who have eased the pressure on manager Stephen Glass by picking up four points from their last two matches against Hibernian and Rangers.
Neilson, who will make a late call on the fitness of striker Liam Boyce, said: “Aberdeen started the season very well, then had a blip, as the majority of teams will have, and now they’re coming out the other side of it. With the quality they’ve got in their squad I always expected them to get through it and start getting back up the league.”
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