Hearts defender Aaron Hughes has thrown his support behind Ian Cathro and insisted he is driven by the head coach's ambition.
Currently on international duty with Northern Ireland, 37-year-old Hughes said players must perform because Cathro's methods are as good as any. He backed the Dundonian to answer critics next season by delivering better results.
Cathro replaced Robbie Neilson as Hearts head coach in December after successful spells as an assistant at Newcastle United, Valencia and Rio Ave. Since then, the Tynecastle side have won just six of 26 matches. Sceptics haven't been slow to turn on Cathro but Hughes is adamant he will make a success of the job.
"He is a very good manager and I’m not saying that because I play for Hearts," said the defender. "From my first meeting with him I really got a good feel from it, with the things he was saying, how he sees the team progressing, where he wants to take them, his ambition.
"He has great intensity in training and his attention to detail is very impressive. With the levels and standards that he wants from training, you can see why he has worked at the clubs he has worked. He has worked at top level and he is trying to bring that in at Hearts as well. Results, unfortunately, haven’t reflected that at times and it has been a bit frustrating."
Hughes recently extended his contract in Edinburgh until summer 2018 having previously enjoyed spells in England with Newcastle, Aston Villa and Fulham. He feels the abuse aimed at Cathro has been unwarranted. "From the off there has been a lot of criticism without there being any reason behind it. He’s been fighting that from the start," continued Hughes.
"He’s never shirked responsibility and, at the same time, it is up to the players to do their job when they cross the white line. I have really enjoyed working under him in the last six months. Signing another year tells you that I want to continue working under Ian. I'm very motivated by the things he wants to do.
"He is very confident in where we are going and what we are doing. That is the side that other people don’t see because all you see is what is reported and the nasty side, so to speak. It gets frustrating and annoying that they never seem to let things go.
"For some reason he is a target until he starts getting the results, and that is where the responsibility falls on the players to take the good things we are doing in training out onto the pitch and show people what we are all about."