Hearts’ John Souttar respects Jon Daly after United kicking lessons

Hearts defender John Souttar
Hearts defender John Souttar
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Jon Daly would swiftly become a serious contender for the Hearts head coach’s job by winning the next two matches of his interim reign. Regardless of the present, he is being groomed as a future manager of the Tynecastle club.

Jon Daly would swiftly become a serious contender for the Hearts head coach’s job by winning the next two matches of his interim reign. Regardless of the present, he is being groomed as a future manager of the Tynecastle club.

Jon Daly

Jon Daly

With that in mind, it is encouraging to hear players speak of him so glowingly. Defender John Souttar is just one who knows the kind of respect Daly commands. The imposing Irishman used to kick lumps out of the young protégé on the training fields at Dundee United some years ago, and Souttar hasn’t forgotten.

“Oh yeah, I took a few bashes from him,” laughed Souttar. “We used to play young versus old on a Friday and I would be directly up against him. It was a bit of a lesson getting bumped and bashed around. Did I kick him back? He was club captain at the time so it wasn’t the best idea to try it!

“To be fair, we had a lot of good young players back then with Stuart [Armstrong], Andy [Robertson], Goodie [David Goodwillie], Johnny Russell and the like. We had a decent team. We had the legs!

“Jon was a good player and he’s a good coach as well. He is as good as anyone. I know there’s a lot of good managers being mentioned for the job here, but he’s got a wealth of experience. If we could win our next two games, it would stand him in good stead no matter what happens.”

Daly will continue as interim head coach when Hearts visit Kilmarnock tomorrow and is likely to remain in place until after the trip to Ibrox the following weekend.

“I think everyone respects him, to be honest,” said Souttar. “Even when he was Under-20s manager he was a big presence about the place. For me, he was my captain at my first club. I played with him so I know the leadership qualities he’s got. He was always there for me and for the boys.

“He was a great captain. He was very good with the boys, and the younger lads. He was a big presence. For me growing up, he was a great example. He was just a good leader.”

Daly shoulders the immediate task of trying to rejuvenate the Hearts squad in the aftermath of Ian Cathro’s dismissal. After last week’s 4-1 opening Premiership defeat at Parkhead, the trip to Ayrshire carries plenty importance. “I didn’t really read all of what happened last week, but I got the gist of it. No, it didn’t surprise me,” admitted Souttar.

“It’s been good so far [under Souttar]. Training has been good and everyone has enjoyed working with him. We just need to make sure we get a positive result for him tomorrow now.

“I think all the boys are treating him like they would any manager – with a lot of respect. We will do our utmost to get a result for him tomorrow because everyone wants him to do well.”

A raft of big names have applied to succeed Cathro but Daly hasn’t abandoned hope of earning the role full-time. Realistically, it may be too early in the 34-year-old’s coaching career for him to step into such a high-profile and demanding position, but he remains highly regarded by director of football Craig Levein. Others to show an interest include Steve McClaren, Paulo Sergio, Steven Pressley and Paul Hartley.

“We’ve seen a few of the names linked with the job. I won’t say what we’ve been talking about in the dressing room though,” laughed Souttar.