First Team

Craig: Aim high, Robbie

4th May 2015

Director of Football tells Robbie Neilson to impress next season and bag Manager of the Year accolade.

Craig Levein has challenged Robbie Neilson to go one better next season and win the Manager of the Year Award.

The Jambos head coach was amongst the finalists in last night’s PFA Scotland awards but lost out to Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s John Hughes.

Despite that, the Director of Football believes Robbie has exceeded all expectations after romping to the Championship title in record time, in what has been a remarkable season for everyone at Heart of Midlothian Football Club.

Speaking to HeartsTV, Craig said: “No, I didn’t envisage such a campaign. We were hopeful and I knew that Robbie would do a good job…just how good was a question that we would have to wait and see.

“He has exceeded expectations. I can’t believe he didn’t win manager of the year. How many points do you have to win the league by to win it? But that’s something for him to aim for next season.”

Looking back on a memorable season, Craig can cast his mind back to the opening fixtures of the campaign to pinpoint where it all went right for the men in maroon.

“It was the best possible start, and I said that to Ann when the fixtures came out,” he said. “I said it was ideal for us. The pressure was always on Rangers from that first game. They were the favourites and we were unknown.

“Okay, there were a number of players who had been here last year and played regularly but we had a lot of new players who Rangers didn’t know. They really didn’t have any secrets. I thought it was a brilliant fixture list for us and I hoped that we’d get four points from the first two games, and secretly I’d have loved to get the six points but four points would’ve been good.

“From that very first game, when Osman Sow scored in the last minute, it really set the tone for us for the rest of the season.”

Plans are now underway for next season’s crack at the Premiership, and Craig has made no secret of his and Robbie’s desire to strengthen for the step up.

“We’re trying extremely hard to get the right type of players in,” he revealed. “It’s all about value for money, getting the best player possible for the money we’ve got.

“Myself, John Murray and Robbie are all on the case. We’re looking at players from here, there and everywhere. The challenge for us is to sign really, really good quality players.”