ROBBIE NEILSON insists he is keeping his expectations for Hearts’ season “realistic” after former team-mate Steven Pressley tipped the Jambos to challenge Celtic for the Ladbrokes Premiership title.
The ex-Hearts skipper stated his belief that Neilson and his players are credible rivals to Ronny Deila’s champions after topping the table with four wins from four matches so far this season.
While Neilson had no problem with Pressley’s comments, he’s adamant no-one at Tynecastle is getting ahead of themselves.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” said Neilson. “I get on really well with Elvis. I spoke to him on Thursday – not that he told me he’d said anything!
“I’ve still not seen him at any of the games this season, so he’ll be looking at it from the outside, seeing the results, rather than being in here and seeing it close up.
“Look at the St Johnstone game. We could quite easily have lost that when it went to 3-3 and we were under the cosh. We went to Dundee and could have been 3-0 down after 45 minutes but we went on to win it. “Against Motherwell, we had to get ourselves back
into it in the second half. Ross County, we could have come out of that with a draw, so we could have been sitting here with two points – nobody would have been talking about us challenging for the title then. Those are the small margins we’re dealing with in this league.”
Many expect Hearts to make it five wins from five at home to Partick Thistle today, but Neilson is taking nothing for for granted.
“There’s a long way to go. We’re not going to shout our mouths off about doing this or that because we know where we’ve come from. We had a really difficult time two years ago, we had a good season last year – but that was in the Championship, a different league and a different standard so we have to be realistic with another 34 games to go. There is no point in talking about where we want to be in May. It’s about where we want to be on Monday. You work today for tomorrow, then move on.”
The Hearts boss also revealed the club won’t be signing Queen’s Park right-back Shaun Rooney. The teenager has been on trial at Riccarton but Neilson feels it would be more beneficial for the player to continue playing first-team football at a lower level.
“I was really pleased with him,” said Neilson. “The issue was that I’ve got Liam Smith, who I have high hopes for. He’s a similar age, in a similar position. Shaun had come from Queen’s Park where he played something like eighty first-team games. For him to come to us, he would become a development player again. It’s a step down for the boy. He has to move from Queen’s Park to maybe a League One or a Championship team and we’ll keep an eye on him.”
• HEARTS have appointed Donald Cumming to the club’s board as its second Foundation of Hearts member alongside FoH chair Brian Cormack. Lawyer Cumming was part of the FoH legal team which negotiated with Hearts owner Ann Budge’s BIDCO 1874 Ltd during the takeover at Tynecastle.