Robbie Neilson has rejected any notion of him leaving Hearts after being linked with the vacant manager’s job at Aston Villa.
The Tynecastle head coach stressed today that he wants to continue his role in the Edinburgh club’s ongoing rebuild and has no plans to change job.
Bookmaker Skybet named the 35-year-old sixth favourite to take over at Villa after Tim Sherwood was sacked. He is behind Remi Garde, Gus Poyet, David Moyes, Nigel Pearson and Brendan Rodgers in the market. Neilson stressed people should disregard his inclusion because he has unfinished business at Hearts.
He took charge just as the club emerged from administration last summer and won the Championship title in his first season in management. With Hearts now back in the Premiership and sitting third ahead of today’s fixtures, Neilson intends to play a key part in their continuing redevelopment programme.
“These things happen in football when somebody moves on,” he said. “I think it’s testament to the club and the players as opposed to myself. The club is doing so well and, at the end of the day, the players do it on the pitch. There is still a long way to go here for me and for the club and I want to be part of it.
“It’s just one of those things and there is no point paying any attention to it. There’s a job here for me and that’s what I’m focused on. It’s just the bookies’ odds, it doesn’t mean anything. Anyone could put a tenner on and get odds on it.
“These things don’t matter. I want to stay here and that is all that matters at the end of the day. It has been great so far but there is still a long way to go with this club.” Neilson’s ambitions for the short to medium term are to help Hearts grow in Scotland’s top flight and ensure progress continues on and off the field. If and when he does leave, he wants a solid and lasting legacy for his successor.
“Football is week-to-week and day-to-day and it is very difficult to plan too far ahead,” he continued.
“You just have to make sure that, first and foremost, we win today. Then you look forward to the next game and if the club continues to do well then we will all do well out of it – the players, the staff, everyone.
“But at the moment we are still in a good position here and we still have a lot of growth to come, not just on the coaching side but the playing side as well. I want to be part of that growth.
“Every time a manager comes into a job he should leave it in a far better place than he took over.
“So far, we have managed to get back up to the Premiership but we are still not stable yet in the Premiership.
“We are sitting in a good position but we are still not stable and we need to make sure that we keep growing and we can try to challenge.”