Hearts confirmed last night that Ian Cathro will be their new head coach and will be given a three and a half year contract. He replaces Robbie Neilson, who left the club last week with assistant Stevie Crawford to take up the reigns at English club MK Dons.
While the Hearts fans may not be too familiar with the new appointment, Cathro will be acquainted with the Jambos’ director of football Craig Levein after working in the Dundee United academy during the former Scotland boss’ reign at Tannadice, where he had a hand in the development of the likes of Ryan Gauld and John Souttar. He has now been reuinited with the latter in the capital.
Cathro was also involved in regional coaching with the Scottish Football Association for a short period of time, before taking his badges and going abroad.
He left in 2012, to take up the role of assistant manager at Portuguese side Rio Ave. He got the number two position after impressing their manager Nuno Espírito Santo (who currently manages Porto) while both were doing their coaching badges in Largs.
After two years in Portugal, Nuno Espírito Santo was offered the chance to become first team manager at Spanish La Liga side Valencia. He again offered the Scot the chance to be his assistant – an offer which he accepted. In 2014 the pair guided Valencia to a third place finish, before the Dundonian moved back to the UK for personal and professional reasons.
In his most recent post Cathro joined Newcastle United as a first team coach in June 2015. He worked under former England manager Steve McClaren, as well as former Real Madrid and Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez during his stint at the Magpies.
Ian Cathro and Hearts wanted to appoint Northern Ireland assistant Austin MacPhee as number two and they got their wish earlier this morning. MacPhee, who will continue with his role as part of Michael O’Neill’s national side, is highly thought of in this country and had been earmarked by the SFA as their new Performance Director. But he will now link up with Cathro and they will both prepare their team for Saturday’s trip to Ibrox to face Rangers.
The pair’s appointment has generated a great deal of debate as neither has much top level experience in full-blown management but it has been met with excitement by most Hearts’ supporters and could provide a breath of fresh air for Scottish football.