Hearts: Ian Cathro welcomes owner Ann Budge's clarification about Craig Levein

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland
Hearts head coach Ian Cathro takes training on Thursday
Ian Cathro is in his first job as team boss

Head coach Ian Cathro has welcomed owner Ann Budge's statement to fans in which she said director of football Craig Levein did not pick Hearts' team.

But he stressed that that the show of public support simply confirmed that "there is no grey area".

Levein has been pictured passing information from the stand and has been present in the dressing-room.

"There are maybe misunderstandings that continue to exist, but they are not our responsibility," said Cathro.

The head coach has previously stated that technical staff "in different vantage points" would be involved throughout games.

"It is a very strong, comfortable working relationship that we all have here," he stressed ahead of Friday's game away to Kilmarnock.

"One of the reasons why this is the right club is because of the leadership that's here and the support that's here."

Since Cathro took over in December after Robbie Neilson moved to MK Dons, Hearts have slipped from third to fifth in the table and have won only twice in 10 games.

The 30-year-old, who was previously assistant at Rio Ave, Valencia and then Newcastle United, realises it has led to some questioning his credentials.

"There is certainly a level of respect for what I've done and how I've prepared for this challenge and maybe it's forgotten a bit," said Cathro. "I have done some things.

"Of course, this is my first experience as a head coach and there will always be a big number of differences involved in that.

Hearts coach Jon Daly and director of football Craig Levein in the stand
Hearts coach Jon Daly has passed messages from Levein to the dugout

"I am here because I was ready at that point. I am more ready now and none of those things have ever been in question for the people on the inside."

Striker Isma Goncalves, who previously worked with Cathro at Rio Ave, had told the media earlier that he believed it would be next season before Hearts see the best of their new team boss.

"I wouldn't disagree," said Cathro. "It's something that time's definitely going to help.

"I don't use that as something to try to get close to almost sounding like an excuse for not getting the start or results that we would want.

"But certainly, when I look forward, there is no doubt that all of us are going to be a stronger position the more time I have to work with the players."

If Hearts are to start next season in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League, they must make up a five-point gap between themselves and fourth-top St Johnstone and hope that one of the Premiership's top three - and not city rivals Hibernian - win the Scottish Cup.

While Cathro believes that the Europa League would become a benchmark for the club's progress, he questioned whether they were ready to make an impact next season.

"What's important in that situation is that we arrive at that point when we are ready to compete," he added.

"Right now, there are other things that are priorities, but I see that as a very valid measuring stick that we'll work towards.

"I don't talk about a couple of games in June and 'oh nearly'. I am talking seriously about Europa League.

"Are we ready for that? Not sure. But that is definitely something that has to be an ambition of ours."

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