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McGhee adamant Neilson can lead Hearts back up

Hearts ace Jordan McGhee unveils the club's new away kit for the 2014/2015 season. Picture: SNS

Hearts ace Jordan McGhee unveils the club's new away kit for the 2014/2015 season. Picture: SNS

  • by DARREN JOHNSTONE
 

Hearts defender Jordan McGhee is convinced that new head coach Robbie Neilson is the right man to guide the Tynecastle outfit back to the Scottish Premiership.

The 17-year-old shared his duties between the first team and the Under-20s during his breakthrough season last term.

And it was with the youth team that Scotland Under-21 internationalist McGhee was given an insight into how Neilson operates.

Upon her arrival a month ago, new Hearts owner Ann Budge immediately promoted the Under-20s manager to the first team role after dismissing Gary Locke.

From first-hand experience, McGhee is adamant Neilson has all the attributes to restore Hearts – who are on the verge of exiting administration – to a position of power within the Scottish game. Speaking yesterday as he helped launch Hearts’ new Argentina-style away kit, which will display the crest of fans’ group Foundation of Hearts instead of a sponsor, McGhee said: “We’re looking forward to working under Robbie and the new backroom staff.

“Robbie is a really hard worker, he took me aside a few times last season for individual sessions to try and help me out with the game, parts of the game he thought I was struggling with. I improved from working under him.

“I’m looking forward to that, he is a really good one-to-one manager and a really hard worker and I’m sure all the boys will work hard for him and take on board everything he tells us.

“Robbie has been here and knows what it is all about, he knows what it takes to win trophies and get to the top here. I can’t wait to play under him.

“I’m confident he will do well, if we take everything he is telling us and take it on to the pitch then that’s all we can do. We trust Robbie’s philosophy.

“Robbie likes to get the ball down and play, but it’s also working hard and pressing the ball.

“But when it’s not working out for you passing the ball, he knows when to change and how to change – and it’s important all the players understand that as well.”

McGhee, who made a total of 20 first-team appearances last season as Hearts were relegated to the Championship, admitted he was grateful for a phone call he received from Neilson at the end of last month when he was on a downer following a heavy Under-21 qualifying loss.

He said: “Robbie phoned me after the disappointing 6-1 defeat to Holland and said he thought I did really well.

“He told me to keep my head up and to call him if I needed anything.

“I appreciated it, I got a text off a few people but it’s different when you hear a voice and someone telling you you’ve done well.

“It makes you feel a bit better about yourself instead of getting a text off someone saying ‘well done’.”

With Hearts expected to have their exit from administration ratified by the Court of Session in Edinburgh by tomorrow at the latest, McGhee and everyone associated with the Tynecastle side can bid farewell to one of the most distressing times in the club’s history and focus on the future.

McGhee added: “Last season we were talking about the club surviving, now we’re talking about bringing in new faces to try and help the squad.

“I’m really looking forward to it; the new players they bring in, the new challenge it brings for everyone – especially young boys pushing to get through to the first team.”

As a thank you to the Foundation and their 8,000 backers, new owner Budge waived much-needed sponsorship revenue to gift the fans group advertising space on the new jersey.

Budge, who will run the club for up to five years before handing it over to the supporters’ organisation, said: “We are saying an enormous ‘thank you’ by dedicating our away strip to the Foundation of Hearts.

“It is a small, but significant gesture; a badge that can be worn with pride by our players, by our fans and by the wider audience who are looking on at what the club is achieving with admiration.”

 

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