Neil Lennon believes Cathro has earned the right to boss Hearts

Hearts' new head coach Ian Cathro. Picture: SNS
Hearts' new head coach Ian Cathro. Picture: SNS
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Neil Lennon does not believe a background as a footballer is essential to becoming a successful manager as he welcomed new Hearts head coach Ian Cathro on to the Edinburgh circuit.

The 30-year-old’s unconventional rise to the Tynecastle hotseat has sparked debate over the past week about what credentials are important in taking charge of a high-profile first team.

Hibs head coach Lennon, who entered football management with Celtic on the back of a long and successful playing career, said: “I don’t know much about Ian, but I know that Craig Levein has worked with him before and he has a very good CV, with Newcastle and Valencia. He obviously wants to be his own man now so good luck to him.

“He certainly isn’t ‘Old School’ and hasn’t come down a traditional path, but that is absolutely fine, there are plenty of successful coaches that haven’t been great players.

“A playing career is an advantage, no question, because you have been through the rigours they are going through and have been in their shoes, but that is not to say you will be a good manager. There have been plenty of high-profile players who have not succeeded in management.

“If you look in England there are plenty of really top-class managers who weren’t brilliant players, from Mourinho, to Benitez to Jurgen Klopp, who I don’t think was much of a player. I believe there is an avenue for both.”

Lennon believes Cathro and his assistant Austin MacPhee have every chance of being successful as long as they have a good manner with their players. “I think man management is a huge part of it and how to get the best out of your players,” he said. “Guys like Ian and Austin study the game, study the statistics and analyse the game and see the benefits, as we all do. They probably have more of an educational background than me, to put it that way. My education was playing. That’s how I earned my spurs. But there is room for both.”