Robbie Neilson answers James McPake's criticism with pointed remark on Hearts-Dundee rivalry
McPake was unhappy with Neilson’s pre-match comments on Dundee’s email vote last summer, which ultimately enforced relegation from the Premiership upon Hearts.
McPake felt Neilson’s remarks were inflammatory and spoke publicly on the matter at full-time on Saturday. “He [Neilson] will look at the fact there was a voting scandal but we've played them three times since then. He was the manager of Dundee United,” the Dens Park manager pointed out.
“I don't think there was a need to say that. Maybe he should concentrate on his own team.”
Neilson hit back and stated he simply told the truth about the lingering anger in Gorgie and how it would be a motivational factor in the game against Dundee.
“It’s true. Maybe they don't think it is but it’s very much true from this end,” he said, speaking exclusively to the Evening News. “They’re not the ones who were put down into the Championship.
“I think it’s something that will continue for a long time. If they want to brush it under the carpet it’s up to them but we will continue to remember it.”
Relations between the two teams remain tense and Neilson stated he would make no apology for using the email debacle to fire Hearts up.
“That’s football. You are here to compete,” he explained. “Generally there is a winner and a loser. You need to have an edge between teams, you need to have an edge between fans, that’s what gets you ready for the games.
“For me, that’s part and parcel of football. When we go into every single game, we are trying to find something to give us an edge no matter who it is against.”
Saturday’s game finished 1-1 as Hearts extended their unbeaten Premiership run to ten matches, however they were left disappointed with the final result.
John Souttar opened the scoring with a superb strike in the first half before the Dundee substitute Jason Cumming headed an equaliser with seven minutes remaining.