Hearts coach Ian Cathro insists he doesn’t want any leeway on his managerial debut at Ibrox tomorrow. The 30-year-old has urged supporters to stay behind their team but stressed they are entitled to want another victory over Rangers.
The teams met at Tynecastle last week, with Hearts winning 2-0 courtesy of Robbie Muirhead’s double. Cathro has since replaced Robbie Neilson as head coach and begins his managerial career tomorrow afternoon.
He spoke to the Evening News to stress that Hearts fans are right to expect three points in Glasgow, asking them to give the players their full backing. He stated he doesn’t want an easy ride because demands at the Edinburgh club are too great for that.
“It does take time but, at the same time, we’ll work hard and intense during the week. When that whistle goes, we do expect to win. I don’t want any free time with that,” said Cathro.
“I know that doesn’t come anyway but we will have that expectation and I want the fans to be a part of that. I want them to stay with us, be by our sides and give everything during the game. We need that. We need to do the whole thing together.
“It will be a process over time but it would be nice to start strong and feel everybody together, excited and looking forward to what we can do further down the line. We have to build relationships with everyone.”
Cathro and his assistant, Austin MacPhee, have studied footage of last week’s win over Rangers as part of tomorrow’s preparations. “What struck me most was the strong feeling between the Hearts players. They really worked with and for each other,” he continued.
“That’s something which has to stay, not just for this game. It has to stay forever because that is key. I was really impressed by the togetherness.
“Irrespective of the outcome tomorrow, I don’t think we can put massive labels on anything. I don’t think it will be one of those days. We have to go to Ibrox, compete, try to make little improvements and continue to do that until we grow together.”
Cathro was courted by Rangers in summer 2015 as they looked to appoint a new manager. He had previously coached with Rio Ave in Portugal and Valencia in Spain, but ultimately joined Newcastle United as a coach.
“I think it was publicly documented at the time that there was a couple of meetings and some chat but it wasn’t right on either side and it never happened,” he explained.
“Rangers made the step that they did and so far I think they’ve done everything they were meant to do so it’s gone well. I’m not really thinking about what might have been. I don’t really know how close it was to be honest. It’s just that you know - both in life and work - when something feels entirely right.”
Despite making his managerial debut in one of Scotland’s most high-octane venues, Cathro stressed he won’t be intimidated at Ibrox.
“The only time in my life I’ve ever walked into a stadium and felt remotely intimidated was the very first time we went to Benfica’s Estadio da Luz,” he recalled.
“It’s an incredible arena and I was on the touchline looking around thinking: ‘Oooh’. Then, five minutes went past and it was a game with our players trying to do the things we wanted them to do against what we thought their players would do.
“And after that you’re completely unaware of the crowd but I must admit we didn’t do that well against Benfica!”