Hearts manager Craig Levein says Scottish football has a bright future
Hearts boss Craig Levein says Scottish football's future is bright because the quality of youth players is improving.
Levein believes his own club has an improving crop of young players, but also that other clubs have similarly strong development squads.
In the wake of Scotland's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he urges "patience".
"I spend a lot of time watching youth football. The players are getting better," Levein said.
"There's been a big shift in the last four or five years by all the clubs to try to improve the quality of the youth system. Project Brave will help, but these things don't happen overnight. Give it time and support."
Levein overhauled Dundee United's youth set up when he combined the manager's job at Tannadice with a role as director of football. He has done the same at Tynecastle, after a spell in charge of the national team.
He is convinced that progress is being made in the development of young talent that will eventually have a positive impact on the fortunes of the national squad.
"We suffer from a lack of confidence in this country and we're pretty quick to knock things if they don't happen immediately," Levein said.
"You don't get instant gratification working with kids who are 12, 13. They need to be 19, 21 before you start to see the fruits of that.
"If you look down through the age groups, our teams are doing better, and people should take some degree of comfort from that that things will improve."
Hearts have won once, drawn twice and lost once since Levein was appointed successor to Ian Cathro in August. The sole defeat came in the team's last outing against Dundee, when Hearts conceded twice from set-pieces.
That is an aspect of the team's play that Levein has been working on, and he believes the players have been rewarded for their hard work by improved performances.
One of his targets is to improve the team's away record while the redevelopment of the Tynecastle main stand continues. This weekend brings a trip to Ross County, where Levein expects a difficult challenge as the new manager Owen Coyle has an impact on the side.
"It's a very good appointment," he said of Coyle succeeding Jim McIntyre.
"I did think it was a bit harsh on Jim, who won Ross County's first major trophy. He deserved a little bit longer, but I'm not the man who makes the decisions at Ross County.
"Roy [MacGregor, County's owner] has done very well to get somebody of Owen's calibre. He's managed at a very high level, and he's managed in Scotland, which is important as well. He knows the league and he knows the players. It will be a good addition for Ross County."