Ian Cathro has vowed that anyone willing Hearts to fail will end up disappointed.
In an unprompted statement of defiance at his media briefing, the head coach explained that there is a firm inner resolve at the club which won’t be conquered by those from outside aiming brickbats in the wake of a run of six defeats in seven games.
Cathro acknowledges that his team’s recent results have been “unacceptable” and has no issue with frustrated supporters venting their grievances. However, the 30-year-old, whose appointment four months ago was the subject of intense debate, believes that there are people outwith the club – whom he declined to pinpoint – desperate for he and others at the club to flop.
“I think this is probably a situation, and maybe for the last little while, that there might be more people than normal keen for this club to lose,” said Cathro. “Anybody choosing to do that has probably picked the wrong people and the wrong club to go at for a number of reasons.
“The people – us – are very strong together and very focussed on doing what we do. To try to rock a club like this, which has had darker days and been saved by incredibly passionate, loyal and powerful fans, I think it is unlikely for that to succeed. For that being the case, I’m quite happy to accept that and say, ‘OK, come on’. If there are more people than normal keen for us to lose, ‘come on’, we’ll fight through that. We need to use that to add strength to us, and it will.”
Cathro accepts the flak coming his way from supporters but is adamant he will deliver. “To be clear, we’re in a run of results which is unacceptable to this club and the criticism and the frustration of the fans is something we understand, I understand and I accept,” he said. “That’s the bit that’s real, it hurts. That’s the responsibility of me and us as well. What I say to them is that we understand that we’re incredibly privileged to be at a club which has this level of support and power around it. It’s up to us to make sure we move forward and as quickly as possible and we give them reasons to start to look forward as well.
“We can only do that through games and results and it has to be on a game-by-game basis and we have to start doing it. It’s important people know there are strong people here, so don’t worry too much about that.”
Cathro is adamant that his team have shown sporadically what they are capable of, but acknowledges that they need to start delivering in the form of consistent results.
“We’re two strong games away from forgetting about everything [that’s gone before] and I think that’s important that our focus is on minute by minute of the next game and pushing each other and being focussed on each other to make sure we’re doing the right things minute by minute. Things will click into life, as they have already, and you will see a team that can be dominant and can be strong and that can control games and can attack and score goals, that has talent and has energy. All these things are there.
“What we have to do is get through the entirety of the game, some things go for us, and we feel good about it and we do that again. It is a situation where one game is not enough, it has got to be two, got to be three. That will lift the confidence levels of everybody and take a little bit of the tension out of us and then you will see a different team.”