Ian Cathro: '˜Roof will come off' as he seeks first Hearts win
The head coach is desperate to kick-start his tenure and the pressure is firmly on him and his players after throwing away a two-goal lead in Friday night’s 3-2 loss to Dundee.
Marcus Haber’s late winner for Dundee had barely settled in the net before Cathro was guaranteeing reporters he’d get the fans back on side when the team return to Tynecastle for tomorrow night’s clash with Kilmarnock.
“Do I expect backing from the fans this week?” he pondered, after being asked whether he can expect an escalation in the grumbles heard during the 1-1 draw with Partick Thistle, Cathro’s first home game in charge. “On the basis we start the game the way I intend for us to start the game the roof will come off.”
But the problem isn’t starting games – Hearts have opened brightly in their last two matches against Dundee and Partick Thistle and even scored an early goal wrongly ruled out for offside against Rangers in Cathro’s first game.
It’s the mettle to see out matches where they have been so dominant in the opening stages that’s been missing. Cathro complained about poor game management after the defeat at Dens, in which Hearts conceded three goals in 40 minutes.
Tomorrow night’s clash under the lights at a packed Tynecastle provides ample opportunity to end a troubling run of form that has left Cathro, pictured, exposed to sceptics who questioned his appointment – including Kilmarnock’s own Kris Boyd.
Two defeats by Rangers and Dundee and a draw at home to Partick Thistle wasn’t, Cathro accepts, what he had expected.
Although still so early in his Hearts career this is a pivotal week for Cathro, with two home games in the space of four days. It’s remarkable his first victory hasn’t come already, thus relieving the pressure.
The way Hearts started on Friday against Dundee seemed an affirmation of Cathro’s desire to be expansive, quick-breaking and extremely easy to watch. It is no exaggeration to note Hearts should have been three or four goals in front at the interval. But things then quickly unravelled in troubling style. Cathro concedes Hearts are in “a difficult spot”.
But he claims his confidence hasn’t been shaken. After taking the path less travelled to get to where he is, he’s not about to start questioning himself after three poor results, the most recent of which came about it in such freakish circumstance. Had Hearts not lost Don Cowie to injury early in the second half, who knows what might have happened?
“Every time you take a slap in the face it gets a bit more difficult but that has got to prompt more fight and togetherness,” said Cathro. “We have had to be honest with ourselves and the good thing about football is that there’s always tomorrow.
“I thought I’d win quickly but challenges come,” he added. “I’m in a fortunate position because I’m quite a strong person and there’s not much that will rock me. It’s just as well I am that person because we’re in a difficult spot.
“But I think the players can feel comfortable because we all know we’re strong people. The fight is fine and the challenges are good. I like them.”
It’s typical that a game from which Cathro really needs a victory to keep the critics off his back should involve Boyd, one of the most high-profile doubters following his appointment. The striker questioned Cathro’s credentials, describing him as “way, way out of his depth”. Cathro simply shrugged when asked whether Boyd would occupy his thoughts tomorrow at all.
“I have done what I’ve done in my life because I focus on what’s important,” he said. “Noise is noise. Everything else is nothing so it’s not worth a comment really.”