Robbie Neilson on winning Hearts fans over as he gives league season rating out of 10
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson is more understanding of the pressure which comes with being at the club than most.
He had it as a player across nearly 250 games and eight years, and has experienced it during his two stints as head coach.
While a plane, flying a critical banner of the manager, flew over Tynecastle during his first spell, the current spell saw fan protest outside the stadium.
The season past is one where he has been tested more than once and one where he has developed greater resilience to the challenges which management brings.
Neilson is, however, well aware of fan feeling and admits there is only one thing he can do to ensure they are happy which he notes is “massively important”.
"We can sit and talk and go ‘we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that’. It’s about winning football matches,” he told Scarves Around the Funnel. “That’s football management, that's football as a head coach. My job is to get the team winning, that’s what I need to do.
"When the team wins, the energy comes, the club comes together, the players come together, everyone pushes forward, we’re going at the top end of the league, we’re winning games, we’re winning derbies, we’re winning cups, getting to Hampden.
You can sit and talk, we’ll do this, recruit that, do all that kind of stuff. Doesn’t matter. It’s about winning football matches. We know that.”
Big club is all about
He added: “You want to come into Tynecastle and the place to be rocking. We've won a Championship but had difficult periods. I’ve been at Hearts long enough to know these difficult periods, you turn them and get going, moving forward and it starts to rock again and get going again. It goes back to that resilience.
“When you are at a big club when you lose a game there is going to be negativity. That’s the way it is. You have to be resilient enough to take it, it’s the reason we are at a big club, take it on your shoulders, take the pressure, can you handle the pressure, can you focus on what you need to do, can you go out and put a performance on to win the game, win the next game and win the next game.
"That’s what playing at Hearts and playing at a big club is all about.”
In the league, Hearts achieved what was expected of them, to return to the Premiership as champions, but in the cup competitions they came up well short of expectations.
"If you are talking about the league campaign, a seven,” Neilson said when asked to give the season a rating out of ten. “A seven or an eight. Because ultimately we won the league by 12 points and that was the objective at the start of the season.
"The cup games were miles off it and that’s an area we need to improve in.
"As for the league campaign, I’ve won the Championship three times. I know what it’s like. It’s totally unrealistic to go and win every game, dominate every game, no matter what team you are.”