JOHN Robertson played for Hearts, managed Inverness Caledonian Thistle and has commented on both as a media pundit so he knows better than most what to expect when they meet in Saturday’s Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final.
“In a cup tie, you have to go with the team that scores more goals,” he says. “Inverness have [Andrew] Shinnie, [Billy] McKay and [Richie] Foran all in double figures so you have to give them the edge. Hearts? I would be struggling to tell you who their top scorer is.”
Robertson has been impressed by both the style of Terry Butcher’s side and their resilience. Their late equaliser against Ross County in the Scottish Cup fourth round, just seconds after their opponents had scored what looked to be the winner, reminded him of the Hearts team with whom he nearly won a championship medal 27 years ago.
“A team of lesser confidence would not have been able to come back against County.
“They remind me of the Hearts team in ’86 when we went all the way to the last game of the season. We had a belief that we were going to win every single game. The Inverness mentality appears to be exactly the same – they just don’t believe they are going to lose.”
Robertson is delighted the Inverness manager turned down an approach from Barnsley but he suspects that will not be the last Butcher hears from south of the Border. The former England captain’s decision to reject one Championship club has only brought him to the attention of others.
“I genuinely think that Terry Butcher deserves a bigger and better club than Barnsley, no disrespect to them,” says Robertson.
“Bizarrely enough, if the Barnsley job had come up first then I think he would have been nailed on for Ipswich [Town]. I know he wants to retire there eventually. If they had come calling, there would not have been any doubt. I just think he deserves a bigger club, one a bit more stable.”
Butcher’s decision to stay might even strengthen his hand. “If he can finish the season off as he has done then that is even more power to him. The worst-case scenario is top six, which is still a huge achievement. He could be in the League Cup final, the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup and, potentially, in Europe.”