Craig Levein: Third or fourth is Hearts’ target

Craig Levein is hopeful Hearts will improve
Craig Levein is hopeful Hearts will improve
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Craig Levein revealed today that finishing third or fourth in this season’s Ladbrokes Premiership is a realistic target for new Hearts coach Ian Cathro.

The club’s director of football is keen to improve on last season’s achievement of third, but recognises Cathro will need to time to adjust after succeeding Robbie Neilson.

Levein pledged to support the 30-year-old in his first managerial role and stressed that his different way of thinking is what earned him the job at Tynecastle.

“I’m as hopeful as everyone else that we can build and improve,” said Levein. “One of the reasons Ian is here is that he doesn’t have the same thoughts about what we can do as most people in Scotland. That is the interesting thing.

“Talking about this season, realistically, now he is in he needs the opportunity to bring the players in and get them playing the way he wants them to play.

“I think for the short term, this season, it’s realistic to talk about third or fourth place. Next season, if we manage to progress and then the season after then things start to look different. But Ian will answer that question himself in time.”

Cathro will get funds to reshape his squad during the January transfer window. “We want to support Ian and there are some players we want to move out in January to create room for players to come in,” said Levein.

“Ian has his own ideas. We will make money available to him in January. We do try our best to stay within budget but, at the same time, it is a football club and we do want to invest in the sport.”

Levein lured Cathro from Newcastle United when Neilson left Hearts for MK Dons. The idea had been to promote from within. “In some ways he has come from within. Ian was actually in the building two years ago and had accepted the Under-20 coach’s job before the Valencia assistant’s job came along,” revealed Levein.

“He was actually the man we wanted to replace Robbie. The good thing for us is that in those two years he has been to Valencia and Newcastle so he has learned a hell of a lot more than he would have done here.”