ROBBIE Neilson believes the work done by Hearts to make their foreign legion feel at home at Tynecastle is behind the Jambos’ rampant start to the Ladbrokes Premiership campaign.
Hearts have continued the sparkling form which took them to last season’s Championship crown by beating St Johnstone and Dundee in their first two games of the term.
Key to that impressive introduction has been the exploits of Spanish frontman Juanma, who has already notched three goals.
But head coach Neilson has also added Pole Blazej Augustyn, Brazilian Igor Rossi and Nigerian defender Juwon Oshaniwa to his squad and has been impressed by the way they have all settled into life in Edinburgh.
Hearts host Motherwell on Wednesday night and Neilson admits the work done by the club’s administrative staff in the build-up has been just as important as the tactical preparation he has put in.
He said: “When it comes to recruitment, we always try to make sure we get the right characters in. That’s first and foremost.
“After that we have a lot of people here to help them settle in. Our administration manager Clare Cowan does a lot of work getting the guys flats to live in and sorting everything out so they can come in and concentrate on their football.
“That’s a big part of making sure the guys settle in. We’ve got guys coming from places like Nigeria. It’s a totally different culture here.
“We have to do things like find shops where the lads can buy African food or TVs that allow them to access stations from back home. It’s about making them feel at home when they are away from home.”
Celtic assistant boss John Collins has sparked a fierce debate by claiming the teams in Scotland’s top flight are not “quick or clever enough” to prepare the Hoops for European action.
But while the likes of Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes have been quick to criticise those comments, Neilson admitted there was truth in Collins’ sentiments.
“Celtic have got a huge budget so it’s difficult for teams to compete against them,” he said.
“John said something that he probably thinks - and it’s probably true to be honest with you.
“But when you have got a budget of £20 million against a team with just £1 million, it is going to be hard to compete. In my opinion Celtic go into every game as favourites. If they don’t win it, then there is a problem.”
Neilson has no fresh injuries but has hinted he will freshen up his team. Miguel Pallardo remains out with an Achilles problem while forward Soufian El Hassnaoui is sidelined until November with a knee injury.