DUNDEE manager Paul Hartley has recognised the determined streak which has helped former Hearts team-mate Robbie Neilson make a flying start to his coaching career at Tynecastle.
Neilson led Hearts to runaway success in the Championship ahead of Hibernian and Rangers before they opened their Ladbrokes Premiership campaign with a 4-3 win over St Johnstone last weekend.
He is a really determined person. He was the same as a player and has obviously taken that into his coaching career.”Paul Hartley
The pair are reunited at Dens Park on Saturday when Dundee will aim to follow up their 4-0 opening victory at Kilmarnock.
Hartley said: “He is a terrific young manager. A rookie manager managing a club like Hearts with the expectations, he was sort of thrown into it but he has been terrific so far.
“They had a great season last year and they have started the new campaign well also.
“He is a really determined person. He was the same as a player and has obviously taken that into his coaching career. He has a good group of players there, a good balance of the experienced and the younger players.”
Neilson’s success mirrors that of Hartley, who led Alloa to consecutive promotions before completing his personal hat-trick with Dundee, and then leading the Tayside club into the top six.
Along with another mainstay in a constantly-evolving Hearts team, former Falkirk and Coventry boss Steven Pressley, they have shown obvious qualities as managers but Hartley was not convinced either would go down that path.
“Looking back, we had some good leaders in the dressing room,” the 38-year-old said.
“I always thought Steven would become a manager. I wasn’t so sure about Robbie and I wasn’t so sure about myself, but I think when you get older and hit that 30 barrier you look at what you want to do as your career.
“He has had a great start to his management career but hopefully it won’t be too good on Saturday.”