Ex-Hearts boss Ian Cathro criticises ‘b******t’ impression of him

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Ian Cathro has opened up about his time as Hearts head coach, criticising the impression created of him as “b******t”.

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Ian Cathro was sacked by Hearts before the start of the 2017/18 Ladbrokes Premiership season. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Ian Cathro was sacked by Hearts before the start of the 2017/18 Ladbrokes Premiership season. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The 31-year-old took over from Robbie Neilson in December 2016 but was sacked four days prior to the start of the 2017/18 season after the club exited the Betfred Cup group stages - the only Ladbrokes Premiership side to do so.

His appointment created intrigue and attracted headlines due to his age and lack of playing career.

After a column in the Sun by Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd, Cathro was labelled a “laptop manager”, while the club were largely praised for the appointment of an innovative and exciting young managerial talent.

Looking back on his time on The Guillem Balague Podcast, Cathro, who had coached at Rio Ave in Portugal, Spanish giants Valencia and in the Premier League with Newcastle United, felt the “false impression” created by some in the media hampered his ability to bring success to Tynecastle.

“At the time it (the reaction to the appointment) was a bit louder than what it needed to be,” he said. “I was a bit surprised at the sort of intensity that was on it and with the chance to look back at it, what actually happened was people had decided it was some sort of test case for extremes and everybody had to pick what side they were on and it became a bit of batting the ball back and forth.

“There’s the group of people who think and believe that I represent some sort of young coach that is going to revolutionise Scottish football and bring it back up to date, and is Scottish, so this is a tremendous thing. Then there is the other side who naturally are uncomfortable with that idea and fight that with the opposites. Typically these guys know more people in the press, these guys have been around people longer and these guys have a bigger influence so the noise was louder.

“One of the issues was the fact they were successful in creating a false sense of my character and personality, that was done right at the start. There is something that is really important which is no matter what size of the football club, what culture, wherever it is in the world, the fans need to believe in the person that stands at the side of the pitch in their football team.

“And I think, typically, there is three ways that happens. The obvious one is results, which always is the most important thing. The second bit is the football that they see and how they feel about that, whether they believe in that.

“But there is also the persona of the person who is responsible for that and the person that’s got to led their team when it is difficult and when it is good, and got to maybe defend their team and defend their club when they’re being attacked and look after the players when they are under a bit of stress.

“Before I had met the players there was a lot of false impressions fed to people on scale which influenced what people’s impression of my persona was. So there’s this idea which exists in Scotland which is just b******t.”

He added: “It is a normal thing, anybody who is in that position there are positives and negatives and you have to deal with that but it did seem it became a bit of a test case for people’s ideas and I was probably positioned as something which I never asked to be.

“I never claimed that I was going to bring Scottish football into 2018. I was just a coach who wants to work hard and make progress. There were other aspects as well but I think that perception becomes even more important if you don’t have the early results.”

Cathro stated that he was glad he took the job and for the experiences which came with it, even if his 23.33 per cent win percentage is the worst of any permanent Hearts boss.

He said: “You do a lot of reflection and I think you probably reflect slightly differently as time passes as well. My reflections now are different than what they were four or five months ago.

“I’m in a position now where I’m really glad it happened. If that hadn’t happened then I wouldn’t have the scars on my back that I’ve got now and I wouldn’t see all the things that I see now and feel all the things that I feel now.

“And I’m 31. I’m really grateful for everything that was thrown at me.”

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