JOHN ROBERTSON has returned to Hearts to coach the club’s strikers for free. Tynecastle’s record goalscorer has agreed to work one day a week at Riccarton to help manager Gary Locke after the onset of administration, writes BARRY ANDERSON.
Billy Brown is already assisting Locke without pay, whilst Christophe Berra has joined Gary Naysmith in training with the squad.
Hearts remain under a registration embargo as a result of entering administration, but Locke believes having the experience of Berra and Naysmith around can only benefit his young players.
However, he sees the arrival of Robertson as critical.
“He’s a legend and when I was here before with Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown, Robbo came in and worked with the strikers,” he said.
“In my eyes there is nobody better. We haven’t got a lot of strikers at the cub, but the ones who are here I feel will benefit hugely from his experience and his knowledge.
“I’m just delighted that he has accepted my offer to come in and, like Billy, he is doing it for free. It’s a massive coup for me that someone of that calibre is willing to come in and do his bit.”
Hearts’ forward line currently includes Ryan Stevenson, David Smith and Dale Carrick, whilst Callum Paterson can also operate as a striker. Locke is keen for the arrangement with Robertson to become a long-term option.
“I’m hoping its not short term and that he can come in, certainly once a week at moment. It’s a difficult one because he’s not getting paid and is driving down from Inverness.
“It shows the mark of the man that he is prepared to come so far to help myself and Heart of Midlothian. It’s great for the players. The strikers at the club will learn so much from him.
“We have seen over the summer just what this club means to people, including its former players, and of course the people still at the club – those who work behind the scenes and aren’t seen day to day.
“We are all working 24 hours a day to make sure the club gets back to where it should be and if we’ve got those type of people at the club. We’ve got a chance.
“We’ve got Billy back in as well and it has been great to see everyone rally round. The ex-players are no different – they all want to do their bit as well. It has been a fantastic effort from everyone and hopefully we can get new owners shortly and we can all look forward.”
Berra is a free agent after leaving Wolverhampton Wanderers and has returned to his formative club to train whilst mulling over his future.
“It’s the same as Gary Naysmith. He’s in to train and, if you see the boys we’ve got, it’s a youthful looking team.
“Having boys of the quality of Christophe and Gary on the training pitch, I’m hoping that will help the younger players.
The squad is thin, but I’m not making excuses about that.
“We’ve got some talented players and we are up for the challenge ahead.”
Hearts travel to Dunfermline tomorrow for a pre-season friendly, before trips to face Raith Rovers next Wednesday and Queen of the South the following Saturday.
Locke then takes his squad to Northern Ireland before the new season begins.