Robbie Neilson has left behind both solid foundations and high expectations for his successor as Hearts’ head coach.
I know there had been a few grumbles recently, but I really hope supporters remember Robbie in a positive light because overall he was a clear success. He had a sensational first year in which he led us out of the Championship and then consolidated us at the top end of the Premiership.
He has been an excellent servant to the club as a player and head coach and I wish him all the best in England. I hope MK Dons proves to be a stepping stone for him to further his career at the top end of English football.
He leaves us on a solid footing for the new incumbent. It’s hard for anyone to come in and take charge of Hearts at any time, but this might be an even harder time to take over, simply because expectations will be so high.
Often a new manager is inheriting a difficult situation, but the new man is taking over a good squad who look equipped to challenge for second and who finished off in good form under Robbie. Rightly or wrongly, everything is going to be compared against what Robbie did. First and foremost, the new man will be expected to maintain the level Robbie has had us at for the last year and a half, and then help the team kick on in the league and make headway in the cups. That would be a big challenge for anyone in the game, no matter how experienced they are because there have been plenty seasons in the past when Hearts haven’t finished in the top three.
It looks like young Ian Cathro will be the new head coach and he is someone I don’t know much about apart from what I’ve read, so I have no idea about how suited he is to the role. In a general sense, if we bring in someone who has never played professionally or managed a team of senior players before, it stands to reason that leading a team of Hearts’ stature will be a challenge, but Craig Levein will be well aware of what is required and wouldn’t put anyone in he didn’t think could handle it.
It’ll be a brave move, but bravery can often pay off, as we saw with the performance against Rangers on Wednesday which ended Robbie’s reign on such a high note.