Heart of Midlothian: Head coach Ian Cathro says there are 'no limits'

Austin MacPhee, Ann Budge, Ian Cathro
Ian Cathro, right, says there are no limits to what can be achieved at Hearts

Ian Cathro wants to push the boundaries of what Hearts can achieve after being appointed the club's head coach.

The 30-year-old succeeds Robbie Neilson and wants to build on the work that established Hearts as a top-four side.

Cathro has no playing or management experience but says there will be no issues with being the voice of authority in the dressing room.

"There isn't a limit to what you can do unless you believe in limits everybody else has set for years," he said.

"I don't live with those limits in my mind. There's space to grow and develop. We intend on being here for a long time.

"There will be good and bad, highs and lows, but it's about improving and taking another step on the great work that's already been done."

'You're ready, go'

Craig Levein and Ian Cathro
Cathro will work alongside director of football Craig Levein

Cathro has spent the past four years as assistant manger to Nuno Espirito Santo at Rio Ave in Portugal then Valencia in Spain, and to Steve McClaren and then Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United.

He believes he is ready to prove himself at Tynecastle, and said the foundations laid by owner Ann Budge and the support structures put in place in the football department by director of football Craig Levein make Hearts the right club at which to move into management.

Cathro was appointed as a youth coach at Dundee United by then-Arabs boss Levein and said he would welcome "help" in his new role, but that he would pick the team.

"That will be me [who picks the team]," he said. "Why is this the right time? Probably because it's the right place and once of the factors is the structure that surrounds the club.

"If I can have help, I want help. I want people around me who are part of the team and want this to be a collective effort for us to make real steps forward that last. That will be done on a group basis, through my choice, because that's what I want.

"I'm ready because it's been something I've prepared for quite specifically for a long time. The only thing that people around you can do is see your work, see you as a person and have a feeling as to whether you are ready or not to do it.

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New Hearts head coach Ian Cathro has 'no limits'

"Throughout the process, this club has decided that I am ready and the people I have spoken to at Newcastle and other guys I look up to and who have supported me, as soon as they answered the phone they said: 'You're ready, go'."

Laughing off laptop critics

Cathro has been the subject of criticism from former players, who believe he does not have the personality or charisma to inspire players. The former Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd, who attended coaching courses with Cathro, made a remark about his use of a laptop to store coaching drills.

The new Hearts head coach brushed aside the comments, while revealing a sense of humour that undermined the accusation of him being aloof.

He also said that the description of him as a "genius" by the likes Nuno Santo and the former Dundee United youth coach Stevie Campbell was not a term he would ever use and that he will not be "radical".

Kris Boyd
Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd has doubted Cathro's credentials as a head coach

"I've got numerous powerpoint presentations I can show to everybody, you just need to lift the laptop and it will be set up," Cathro joked.

"If you met me when I was 18, you'd have thought, what a boring 40 year-old he is. Comment on football is one of the reasons football is what it is.

"[My] responsibility is to make sure that prior to the first whistle in the game, we expect to win. I use the word expect, and that takes a lot of work.

"It's difficult, but that is our responsibility, to help the players improve on a daily basis, that's my vision.

"The improvement in the team, how the team can control games and make it more likely that we win games more regularly. Beyond that, time will tell."

MacPhee chooses Hearts

Cathro - whose first game in charge will be against Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday - will be assisted by Austin MacPhee, who was in the running to become performance director with the Scottish Football Association but chose instead to join Hearts in a coaching capacity.

"It's not anything to do with the SFA or Hearts, it's two different career paths," MacPhee explained.

"I can only thank the SFA for their patience with me, their exchanging of ideas, and whoever takes on the performance director role, they have a very exciting job. I believe the decision to come here and work with Ian, Craig and Ann will be the right one for my career over time.

Austin MacPhee
Austin MacPhee has joined Cathro's coaching staff, having been a contender for the Scottish FA's performance director role

"We're different characters. We've got different skills, we've exchanged ideas in the game. There's enough synergy, but it's not all synergy.

"There are things Ian will challenge me on and there are things I will challenge Ian on. Our strengths and weaknesses will hopefully compensate, and we can grow with the club to move Hearts forward."

Budge said the pair reminded her of Neilson and his assistant Stevie Crawford, who guided Hearts out of the Championship in their first season at the helm.

"I used to say about Robbie that I was impressed with his intelligence, his understanding of the game, his work ethic, and these two young men are in exactly the same mould," Budge said.

"They buy into what were trying to do at Hearts, we've talked about our long-term plans, the investment in the academy and the development of youth and the aspirations for the club."

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