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Aberdeen winger Jonny Hayes backs ‘refreshing’ Hearts boss Ian Cathro

PFA Scotland Premiership Player of the Year Nominee Jonny Hayes (SNS Group)
PFA Scotland Premiership Player of the Year Nominee Jonny Hayes (SNS Group)

IAN CATHRO has spoken out about his belief people are willing him to fail at Hearts.

Many, he suspects, question whether the job was too big for someone stepping up to be head coach for the first time.

Yet as he heads into this afternoon’s meeting with Aberdeen he finds himself with an unlikely supporter: Dons winger Jonny Hayes.

“Personally I find it a bit refreshing to see a manager come in and kind of completely change the team’s philosophy,” said the Irishman.

“He obviously knows the game well and wants Hearts to play a nice brand of football.

“Last year when we played against them the games were pretty dull but since then you can see they have changed quite a bit. The results haven’t perhaps gone the way they would have wanted yet but it is probably going to take a while for him to get his points, for his ideas to settle in and the team to adjust to his style.

“He will also want to bring his own players in and I am sure he will be looking forward to next season, his first full season because he will have his own design for the football club.”

Transitional period for the Edinburgh club or not, the 29-year-old still anticipates a testing encounter for the Reds as they continue the build-up to the Scottish Cup Final.

Ian Cathro (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)
Ian Cathro (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)

“Hearts away is still a tough fixture, if you ask anyone in Scotland when Hearts play well and Tynecastle is rocking it is a very tough place to go,” he said.

“To be fair I have always felt the crazy atmosphere comes from the crowd –both sets of fans, because we always sell out our allocation there – rather than the football on the pitch.

“It is just a really enjoyable place to go.

“I played in the League Cup semi-final there a couple of years ago (2014 v St Johnstone), scored and thoroughly enjoyed the game.

“From a football point of view you probably don’t get many better atmospheres than a full Tynecastle.

“This the last time we will play them there this season and I am sure Ian Cathro will have them all fired up on Sunday to try to take all three points.

“We have plenty to play for ourselves though. There is second place to fight for plus a fair amount of pride involved as well.

“And of course we do want to finish strongly as a team and as individuals so we can go into the Cup Final in the form of our lives.”

Which, he accepts on the basis of watching the Hoops’ 5-1 demolition of Old Firm rivals Rangers last week, Aberdeen may need to be.

“Celtic on their day, when they play like that, can beat anyone,” he said.

“They are the best team in the country and they have proved that by a long way. When they have got their players on form and are playing well and scoring then they are pretty hard to stop.

“No one ever wants to lose – particularly 5-1 – and we will try to show that we are a decent team who can’t be taken lightly.”