'Could not ignore the results' - Hearts reveal interim boss and offer 'clarity' on Robbie Neilson decision

Hearts have confirmed Steven Naismith will act as interim boss until the end of the season and will be assisted by Gordon Forrest and academy director Frankie McAvoy – but Lee McCulloch has departed.

The club parted company with Robbie Neilson on Sunday afternoon, revealing it was “an extremely difficult decision to reach”. Saturday’s 2-0 loss to St Mirren saw the team drop from third to fourth. It was the fifth straight defeat in all competitions and sixth loss in the last seven outings.

Naismith, who has been managing the club’s B team in the Lowland League and assisting with the Scotland national team, will take charge of the remaining seven matches of the season, starting with the Edinburgh derby against Hibs on Saturday.

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“Steven has played the game at the highest level possible, and has taken great strides forward in his coaching career with the club’s B team and at international level with Scotland," the club’s chief executive Andrew McKinlay said. “He will be assisted by Gordon Forrest, who I am also pleased to say has agreed to remain with the club, and Frankie McAvoy, who has a wealth of top level experience and has built up a great working relationship with Steven through the B Team. We have great faith in Steven, Gordon and Frankie and will give them the best support possible as we aim to finish the season as strongly as possible.

“We enter a crucial period of the season, with two games remaining until the split, followed by a further five matches. With what is at stake, it is no exaggeration to say that we are facing seven cup finals. We had a taste of group stage European football this season and have, in many ways, reaped the benefits. Our aim has always been to repeat this feat and that target has not changed, despite what has transpired recently.”

‘Could not ignore the results’

McKinlay also sought to offer “clarity” over the decision to replace Neilson as manager, confirming the club found itself at “at a crossroads” and a change was required “in order to get back on track and refocus our efforts on clinching third place in the league”.

“Everyone connected with the club was bitterly disappointed with the outcome of Saturday’s cinch Premiership match with St Mirren,” he said. “We had all hoped that things would turn around, sooner rather than later, but results and performances over the past seven weeks have been unacceptable and there is no sugar coating that.

Steven Naismith is part of the interim coaching team at Hearts. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)Steven Naismith is part of the interim coaching team at Hearts. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Steven Naismith is part of the interim coaching team at Hearts. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

“I do not need to remind anyone just how pivotal a figure Robbie Neilson has been in this club’s journey back to the top of Scottish football. His commitment to Hearts has been unwavering, and he deserves every plaudit for guiding us back into the top flight, to two Scottish Cup Finals, to third place last season and into group stage European football. Robbie, along with Lee McCulloch, will forever have our gratitude for those achievements, which is why this was such a tough decision to make.

“However, we simply could not ignore the results and performances. The board is here to make difficult decisions and act in the best interests of the club, which is what we feel we have done by making this change at this time.”



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