Robbie Neilson: Hearts manager underlines commitment to club

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson has no intention of leaving the Scottish Championship title winners yet.

The Tynecastle club's owner, Ann Budge, feared Hearts could lose him to another club after securing promotion with seven games still to play.

"I'll be here next season," said Neilson. "I'm not ready to make a step yet. I'm really happy where I am.

"I'm only in the job nine or 10 months, so I've still got a long way to go; a long way to take this team."

Neilson played for Hearts between 1999 and 2009, helping the Edinburgh side win the Scottish Cup in 2006.

The 34-year-old was appointed head coach in May, with former Scotland manager Craig Levein filling the director of football role.

Hearts' Championship win was confirmed on Sunday when Rangers defeated second-place Hibernian at Easter Road.

Neilson added: "I'm at a stable club; Ann [Budge] has been fantastic; Craig [Levein] has been great; so it's a great place to be.

"It's a great opportunity to build over the summer and have a real crack at it next season and see where we are.

"We had a two-year plan to get up and we've managed to get there ahead of schedule. The players have developed quicker than we expected them to.

Ann Budge and Craig Levein are pleased with Robbie Neilson's work
Ann Budge and Craig Levein are pleased with Robbie Neilson's work

"We've been lucky that any mistakes we have made in the coaching side or during games, from my perspective, haven't been punished.

"You move up a level and they do get punished, so it's important that we don't get ahead of ourselves - players and coaching staff - to think that we've done it. I've learned a lot and I think it's important to continue to learn."

Hearts' first home game since clinching the league title is against Queen of the South on Saturday.

"It's going to be a full house and we must make sure we win," said Neilson.

"If we don't win that then the whole momentum drops; the fans are flat and the players are flat, which is then leading into us going to Ibrox the following week. We must make sure that we continue to win games. We can't down tools and lose games."

Neilson, who spent two years playing in England with Leicester City, insists there will not be "wholesale changes" to the playing squad for their assault on the Scottish Premiership.

"I've got the nucleus of a squad that I want to keep together," he explained. "It's just about adding a bit more quality in the areas I feel we need it, because it's a big step up and it's important we have the quality to go and compete.

"The expectations next season will be big, but it's important to be realistic that we're a Championship team that's been promoted.

"Although we're a huge club, we still need to work hard next season and recruit properly - it's going to be a huge challenge."

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