ROBBIE Neilson has wasted little time in appointing Stevie Crawford to assist him with the Hearts first team.
The Tynecastle club announced that they had agreed terms with Falkirk, where the former Hibernian and Scotland striker has been assistant manager since 2011, with Neilson insisting he was getting a No 2 who would help with the development of his young squad.
“I’m delighted that Stevie is going to come on board as my assistant. I know him well as we have worked together at Falkirk, attended SFA coaching courses together and, of course, played against each other.”
Crawford, who was capped 25 times, was close to joining Hearts as a player almost a decade ago but, despite reports that he had agreed the move with the then manager John Robertson, he opted to sign for Dundee United instead with his agent blaming Chris Robinson, who was chief executive at the time.
Having come through financial problems at Dunfermline Crawford was also understood to be concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the predicted arrival of Vladimir Romanov at that time.
His arrival as part of the new coaching set-up comes after all links with the Lithuanian regime were severed and with a move into fan ownership edging closer. Only last week, new owner Ann Budge revealed that all football matters would be overseen by her director of football, Craig Levein, who immediately appointed Neilson to head the coaching set-up and take responsibility for the first-team players.
Neilson opted not to renew the contracts of certain experienced squad members and says Crawford is the right person to help the young squad members evolve.
“He’ll assist with developing the players and he’s got a great track record of producing talented young players at Falkirk,” said Neilson. “He’s an international striker who has had a great career in the game but, in the last six or seven years, he has been focusing more and more on the coaching side of things.
“I know that he will be a big benefit to the club. He has a great wealth of knowledge and the boys will learn from him, especially the attacking players.
“I’m certain that he will be a big benefit to the Football Academy as well, as all the coaches, myself included, look to work closely together with all age groups.”