Robbie Neilson wasn’t too downhearted after Celtic knocked Hearts out of the Scottish League Cup in tonight’s encounter at Tynecastle.
Leigh Griffiths and Tom Rogic scored for the Hoops, while Arnaud Djoum notched a consolation in stoppage time as the league leaders booked their place in the semi-finals.
After the match, Neilson discussed his happiness at the performance, while admitting that the slack nature of the goals lost gave him some food for thought, although conceding he was pleased overall.
“The players gave me everything tonight, so I’ve no complaints. First half we kept our shape, created a few chances, and the gameplan worked. Griffiths bundles through three tackles that we should clear.
“The second goal was sloppy again, so that’s something we’ll need to look at, but I’m not going to complain too much about it.”
Robbie played down any suggestion that Hearts should be doing more than how the team is currently performing, stating that the team were already performing above expectations set by the club at this point of the season.
“We’ve come a long way from two seasons ago but we’re not quite where we’d like to be yet,” said Neilson. “We want to be beating Celtic regularly. We’re still a newly promoted side and we went through administration not that long ago.
“If we’d had a few more minutes I think we could have maybe snatched something. Celtic were scrambling to get clear in stoppage time.
“This just shows how far we’ve come in that we’re devastated at losing a game like this”, he continued. “Last season at this stage, we got beaten 4-0, and now we’re making progress.
“They’re back here on Boxing Day so that’s another chance for the players to show me how much more they’ve progressed from tonight.”
Arnaud Djoum impressed again, this time as a substitute, notching his first goal for the club in stoppage time and giving the Jambos hope. Robbie revealed his delight at Arnaud’s start with the club, and also his hope that he would be a big player for the team.
“Djoum is a player who can drive forward. Last ten minutes we needed his energy, and he’s going to be a big player for us for the rest of the season, very important, he’s done really well for us.”
Lastly, when asked how he felt about his squad ahead of the January transfer window, the head coach stated he was happy with the squad, but that development was the priority, although there were funds there if required.
“I have a great squad right now, and I have every faith that they’ll be able to improve for the rest of the season, but if we can add players who’ll give us value then I’ll look at it.
“There’s money there if I need it, Ann’s been fantastic and the Foundation are backing us. We’re way ahead of expectations with the long-term plan. We have to keep developing slowly but surely, and developing is the priority for this club.”