Robbie Neilson attempted to play down his contribution to Hearts’ renaissance as a leading top-flight club during his two-and-a-half-year tenure as head coach which is expected to come to an end today.
On a raucous night at Tynecastle, Neilson oversaw a 2-0 win over Rangers which took Hearts above the Ibrox side into second place in the Premiership table.
Afterwards, Neilson refused to confirm his imminent appointment as manager of English League One club MK Dons, with Newcastle United coach Ian Cathro expected to replace him at Hearts.
But he did express his pride at being involved in the club’s rise from administration in 2014, having led them to the Championship title the following year and re-establishing them at the top end of the Premiership.
“I’ve not left yet,” said Neilson. “To be part of this football club has been an honour and it has been great.
“I will be here tomorrow. Until things change, I will be here. It’s a fantastic establishment and it’s been great being here, being part of the journey. People will come, people go, just like players go.
Neilson added: “I will be back in tomorrow morning and what will be, will be. It’s not about me, it’s about the players.
“To get into second place in the league after the long journey we have been on is great. It’s not about my situation.
“This is a phenomenal football club. It is a truly phenomenal football club and to have been part of it has been magnificent.
“I will come in tomorrow morning, we’ll have discussions and take it from there. But it’s been a fabulous night – and the journey is still going here.
“People will jump on, others will jump off. It is just important that the journey continues – because it still has a long way to go.”
Robbie Muirhead’s double, his first goals for Hearts, secured a fully deserved victory for Neilson’s team. He added: “I’m delighted for the players.
“We spoke about it before the game, about pressing aggressively. To a man, they worked their tails off and it was one of the best performances I’ve seen from the team. The work was all done beforehand and it’s about the players.”
Rangers manager Mark Warburton, while expressing his bemusement at the lengthy process of the match officials in disallowing a Joe Dodoo goal when the score was 1-0, admitted that his team had been sub-standard.
“I’m disappointed with the level of performance,” said Warburton. “We knew Hearts would press on and they did, but we had to break the press. We were loose and didn’t break it.
“Sometimes you can go long. They are three on three at the back and we have pace, yet we didn’t utilise it.
“On top of that, we didn’t play at our best in the first-half. To concede to two tap-ins at the far post is unacceptable to us as a group.”