Robbie Neilson today reflected on Hearts’ title triumph and dedicated it to the players and staff who worked relentlessly to take the Tynecastle club back to the Scottish Premiership.
The head coach said winning the league provides a solid foundation for Hearts to progress and stressed they must never again repeat the mismanagement which caused last year’s relegation.
Rangers’ 2-0 win against Hibs at Easter Road yesterday secured the title and automatic promotion after Hearts beat Falkirk 3-0 on Saturday. They are now 23 points clear at the top of the Championship having lost only one league match all season.
Speaking exclusively to the Evening News, Neilson underlined that none of the success would be possible without the commitment of his players and coaching staff. “I’m delighted at winning the league. I’m pleased for everyone on the coaching staff – Stevie Crawford, Jack Ross, John Hill and the others,” he said.
“People don’t understand the commitment they give. These guys are in at half seven or quarter to eight in the morning and sometimes don’t leave until eight, nine or ten at night. They’ve given a lot of their time, they’ve given up everything to try and get the club going in the right direction.
“As a coach, it’s great to have these guys working beside you and dedicating so much time. They’ve been invaluable this season with their commitment and hunger to make the young players better. The plan at the start of the season was to win the league. We weren’t really interested in any of the cups or anything else, it was about getting promoted.
“The main thing for me is we have all these young players and guys who have come in from abroad who have worked so hard. Every day in training and in every game they play, whether they’re starting a game, a sub or not involved, they’ve been part of it. These guys all deserve their moment.
“They’ve won a league title and the last time Hearts won a league was 35 years ago. They will always be remembered for this. I’m really pleased about that. I’m pleased for the fans who have backed us to the hilt. They’ve come to every away game and sold out our allocation. At every home game, they’ve sold out our allocation. The Foundation of Hearts have donated money every month which has really pulled the club together. We can now get back to where we should be and try to push on from there.”
Neilson stressed that the dark days of administration should not simply be forgotten because Hearts are now in a more stable position. He said the club’s financial collapse in 2013 can be used as motivation for future success.
“We must always remember the situation we got into and never get into that situation again. We want to make sure we live within our means and that we’re respectful of other teams.
“There are a lot of clubs out there who helped us when we struggling, whether it be fundraising or other means of support. We must make sure we’re respectful of where we are and where we’ve been.
“Promotion gives us a place to build on, to move on within our means and make sure we do things properly this time.”