Ian Cathro: Director of football nothing to be afraid of

Ian Cathro says that Scottish football needs to rid itself of historic suspicions and accept that the role of director of football is not only completely normal but can also help ensure greater long-term stability.

Ian Cathro would not have taken the Hearts job if there had been no director of football. Picture: SNS.
Ian Cathro would not have taken the Hearts job if there had been no director of football. Picture: SNS.

Rangers are the latest club set to follow the example set by Hearts and the Tynecastle manager finds it strange that it remains such a contentious move.

“Why is it so interesting? Seriously, it’s hardly revolutionary. It’s completely normal.”

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Cathro says it offered vital structure at previous clubs, such as Rio Ave and Valencia and says it can do the same in Scottish football, if people strip away the negativity and recognise the value.

“It’s something that has confusion around it, a variety of different of opinions and definitely a lack of understanding. We get very, very sensitive about it. And I just don’t see why.

“I think we’re obsessed with this idea that the director of football sits in an office a level above the manager, he looks down on him – and threatens him with evil spirits! That’s not how it works. I truly just don’t understand why we have this Scottish issue with it. Maybe it’s just not the norm here. But, in England, certainly in the Premier League, whether or not they have the title, there are people at all the big clubs doing that job. Because it would be impossible to run the operation without it. Impossible.”

Cathro stated that rather than fear the structure, he would not have accepted the job at Hearts had there not been a Director of Football, managing the overall football strategy.

It’s how I see work being strongest, most efficient. It can allow a bit more ambition, there can be more drive because recruitment is a 24/7 thing these days. It must be every single day, how you improve the different parts of the club and I can’t do that every single day, I don’t want to.

“Within that there will be recruitment, the academy, staffing … all of those things. The overall strategy has a business aspect to it as well. Then there are heads of different departments. There is no club or business I’ve ever been involved in that does it differently. But, I think what causes the confusion, causes the debate that we can’t shake in this country, is the idea that the existence of a director of football somehow dilutes the strength or role of the manager/head coach. I’ve never seen that. That’s just not how it works. That is just beyond nonsense.”

While he insists he has responsibility for first team matters, he says it is sensible for clubs to look at matters long-term.

“There is nothing real that would play a role in limiting the power of a manager. But if a manager at a football club is on a two-year contract, should that manager be allowed to recruit a player and sign him on a five-year contract?

I mean, that’s insane. How can I have a 100 per cent remit for signing a player who is going to be here longer than I am, contractually speaking? So, of course, somebody should be involved in that.”