Ian Cathro says he is willing to act on the advice of others when it comes to strengthening the squad next month. And while others will see that as a sure sign of some perfidious puppetry on the part of the board and the director of football, Craig Levein, the new Hearts manager says it is in keeping with the way he wants to operate.
“Of course, I’m aware of the window coming up. There’s discussions and meetings to be had. But I just had to get through last week, not listening to a lot of things, just working.
“The club has a structure, it’s not just the head coach at the club who has an idea of what the team needs. There are other people involved in that. So, we’ll make collective decisions and the outcome will be the best ones for Hearts. That’s the right way and the way I want to work.”
His predecessor, Robbie Neilson, had been promised more cash to improve the squad in the new year. Having made it clear that the aim has to be replicating last year’s third place finish at worst, the board were willing to back their manager and are unlikely to have changed their minds now that he has been replaced.
Cathro will have his own ideas about personnel and the way the team plays, and will have scope to revise the signing targets, but he will consider the opinions of his backroom staff, Levein and those of Neilson, who had made the task of bringing in a new winger a priority as he looked to enhance his options.
The fact that Cathro is also viewed as an integral part of Ryan Gauld’s development as a player means that he has been linked with the creative attacker, who he has kept tabs on since the player followed his lead and swapped Scotland for Portuguese football.
But, while speculation has been stirred, especially with the young Scot finding his game-time limited on the continent, Cathro insisted he hasn’t given any thought to pursuing him. He also hasn’t ruled out an approach, depending on his ongoing evaluation of the players already on the capital club’s books.
“I don’t know if I’ll ask the question. It hasn’t crossed my mind yet. But if everything is right for everyone – no matter who it is – you’d look into it. But it doesn’t really align right now.
“What’s important for Ryan is that I’ve been impressed by how strong he’s been with himself. That will be invaluable to him in life and in his football career. But he’s at a point where he’s starting to break into the Vitoria Setubal side. I watched one of the games and he’s being asked to do different things. He’s had to change aspects of his play which he’s done well. He has to do the right things for himself.”
But the way Cathro refers to John Souttar, who was another of his star graduates from the youth coaching clinic and Dundee United development ranks, suggests that sentiment will not factor in any decision makes about his squad.
Asked if he took any pride in seeing the progress of the Scotland U-21 cap, who is holding down a regular place in the Hearts first team, Cathro was candid. “Actually, no!”.
“The pride was at the time. When he was improving on a day to day basis, that’s when there were daily bits of pride, that’s when that was important. Now, John is a member of the squad and he needs to do his job. That’s it.’
“You live in the moment. I was doing my best to help them but they were also doing their best. And their families were doing most of all to support them and get them to the places they needed to be – they were giving them the best chance. The sense of pride belongs in their family homes.
“For me there was a bit of job satisfaction, but there was no deep thing.”