Robbie Neilson today hoisted the maroon and white scarf above his head at Tynecastle – and revealed he jumped at the chance to become Hearts manager again.
Having left the club in November 2016, with the team sitting second in the Ladbrokes Premiership, Robbie admits he simply couldn’t turn down the opportunity to return to the club where he spent so many years as both a player and manager.
“This a magnificent football club. When Ann spoke to me a couple of weeks ago about coming in, to be honest, there was no doubt in my mind. I just felt it was the right place to come, the right time and the right people here as well,” he explained.
“I had a fantastic time at Dundee United and I had a great relationship with the players and staff there. It was just a case of, when Hearts come calling, you can’t turn it down.
“When I left here, the stand wasn’t finished and the training ground was still improving so there’s a lot of new things here that I’m looking forward to utilising.
“I’ve watched a number of our games from this season and I do think, as everyone probably realises, that there’s areas that we need to add to, but whatever league we’re in I think we’ll have a good squad this year.
“We’re looking to do an extended pre-season and play a number of games during that period. We need to be prepared because once the season kicks off, it’ll be 100mph and we’ll be expected to win every game.”
Robbie has fond memories of his previous stint in charge, from winning the Championship in record breaking fashion to securing a return to European football the following season. So what can we expect this time round?
“When I look back on things, did I leave a wee bit early? Possibly. But I wouldn’t be the manager I am just now without the experiences I’ve had. It’s relentless down in England, you’re playing so many games, travelling and all that, but you’re making great contacts and speaking to so many managers. So, experience wise it was phenomenal for me.
“No matter what league you’re in, when you’re playing with Hearts you’re expected to win. Be that in the Championship or against the Old Firm. For me, it makes no difference – we’ll go into every game preparing to win it. Here you can build momentum, win one game and it carries on into the next one and you start getting that belief.”
Finally, the new boss revealed he can’t wait to return to action in front of the maroon faithful – once safe to do so.
“The fans here are one of the main reasons I’ve come back. When I went down south you had 8,000 fans in a 32,000 seater ground, so the atmosphere just wasn’t there. At United we had a few nights of full houses which were great, but at Tynecastle you’re playing for a full house most weeks. If you get the place jumping it’s a fantastic place to work.
“It’s been a difficult situation for the club for the past six month so it’s important everyone comes together now. That’s why I came back, to help as much as I can because this place can be phenomenal and it’s important we get back to that.”
Watch Robbie's Hearts TV interview for FREE by clicking HERE.