Robbie Neilson: Hearts board given me 'absolutely fantastic' backing as head coach

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Hearts fans protest outside Tynecastle
Hearts fans have been unhappy with recent performances
Scottish Championship: Heart of Midlothian v Alloa Athletic
Venue: Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Friday, 9 April Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Scotland and the BBC Sport website.

Robbie Neilson says he has a "great relationship" with Hearts' board and there is no need for a public statement backing him as head coach.

Former Hearts captain Steven Pressley has criticised what he called a "severe lack of leadership".

He said chairman Ann Budge and others on the board should have been more vocal in their support in the wake of the Scottish Cup exit to Brora Rangers.

"The board have been absolutely fantastic with me," Neilson said.

"I couldn't have asked for any more. There is negativity around Hearts as soon as you drop points, but you have to accept it and look at the bigger picture and make sure we continue pushing to where we want to be."

Hearts are within two victories of securing the Scottish Championship title and promotion despite only two wins in their last nine games.

They are 11 points clear - having played a game more than Raith Rovers and Dundee - and host bottom side Alloa Athletic live on BBC Scotland on Friday.

"I am speaking regularly to Ann, and to sporting director Joe Savage, so I don't need anything," Neilson said. "I know what the objective for the season is and we are on course."

There are parallels between this season and last, when Neilson was in charge of a Dundee United side that built up a healthy lead before a downturn in results ahead of promotion to the Premiership.

"At the start, you go into games where all the teams are looking to win," he said. "Once you get through the first half or two thirds of fixtures, teams come to Tynecastle or Tannadice last season looking to take a point.

"So the games are a lot stuffier. Teams just camp in and make it hard for you. It makes playing free-flowing football difficult."

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