Conor Sammon has noted the calming influence of new Hearts head coach Ian Cathro as he settles into managerial life. However, the striker expects raw passion to burst out of the new gaffer soon enough.
Cathro was suitably collected and composed at Ibrox last week despite Hearts losing his first game in charge 2-0 against Rangers. He is gradually introducing his own philosophy at the Edinburgh club and Sammon sees a studious figure who thinks deeply about football – but also a man with strong opinions on how it should be played.
“On the sidelines, he’s trying to be a calming influence on the team. He’s trying to give them pointers,” explained the Irishman. “I’m sure he has that hothead in him as well, that passion, because he is so passionate about what he wants to do and how he wants us to play. At the moment, he’s been quite calm, trying to get his point across and encourage us. Time will tell, I suppose.”
Cathro’s appointment was confirmed just days before Hearts travelled to Glasgow, leaving little time for proper preparation. “It was quite difficult last week when you’ve only got a couple of days and you’re straight into a game. It was unusual for us and I’m sure it was the same for him,” said Sammon. “It’s a different scenario. Usually, when a manager leaves, it’s because things aren’t going so well. That’s not the case in this situation.
“We’re looking to build and I think the new manager is looking to improve us. That’s his aim, to give us new ideas. I’m sure he’ll have his own thoughts he’ll try to implement over the next couple of months. It’s been nice having a full week’s training with him ahead of the Partick Thistle game [this afternoon]. We’re learning and getting used to each other.”
Today’s match doubles as Cathro’s home debut in front of an expectant Hearts support. “I think it’ll be overwhelming because it is such an incredible atmosphere,” added Sammon. “I played there as an opposition player years ago and experienced it but it’s special when you’re a home player.
“You want things to go well, you want the fans excited and the place to be rocking - like it was against Rangers a couple of weeks ago. That’s probably the best I’ve heard it.
“We want to hit the ground running against Partick, start brightly and really get the crowd behind us. That could make a great day for his first game at Tynecastle.”
At 30, the Dundonian is Britain’s youngest manager. “It’s unusual, but even Robbie Neilson wasn’t that much older,” Sammon pointed out. “When I first came in, it was refreshing to have someone who is so young. I think you can relate to them a bit more.
“People look at it and sometimes think: ‘Does he have the authority?’ I think it’s like a player. If a young player is good enough, he’ll get his chance no matter his age. That’s the case with the manager just now.
“His avenue into coaching is incredible. Look at the places he’s worked, I’m sure he’s learned a lot of things along the way. Now he’s at this point where he’s the main man.”
So far, Cathro’s changes have been minimal. “It’s maybe a little bit soon. We’ve only had a week and a half. I think he’s probably cautious not to change things drastically. Players are creatures of habit and you get into your routines. I’m sure he’ll have his own way, which will definitely be different from the way Robbie did it. He’s probably aware that he doesn’t want to completely change things straight away.
“We have done certain drills in training that really make you think about different aspects of the game, whether it be attacking, pressing or communicating. It’s exciting to think ahead to the sessions we’re going to have and how we’re going to learn along the way.”