REACTION: Neilson & McCann on Hearts’ comfortable victory
A 3-0 Hearts victory ended Inverness’ hopes of a playoff spot, after which both managers spoke to members of the media. Jamie McIntosh reports.
Hearts blew Inverness away in the first half hour at Tynecastle, with a Gary Mackay-Steven brace either side of Aaron McEneff’s deflected effort enough to see Hearts pick up all three points in their final home game of the season.
Inverness needed other results to go their way following their defeat at Tynecastle, however with Dunfermline defeating Arbroath, it means the Caley Jags will continue to ply their trade in the Championship next season.
What They Said
Robbie Neilson expressed his happiness with his side’s display.
“I was delighted. It was one of three really big games. The first home game sets the tone, the remembrance weekend game is really important to the club and the last home game sets the tone for the summer.
“It felt like a Premiership game, so credit to Inverness. They came here to win. Sometimes this year teams just come to sit in, and they didn’t do that, so I thought it made for quite an enjoyable game.”
Hearts have struggled away from Tynecastle this season, which is just one of the reasons Hearts fans have voiced their displeasure this season. Neilson admits that his side’s away form hasn’t frustrated him.
“It’s not frustration. We need to understand, when we go to these away grounds, there is a lot of factors involved. The first factor is there are no fans there. The second factor is teams will just take a 0-0. The actual ball in-play time is very limited. It’s probably only about 40 minutes, which means there is 50 minutes when the ball isn’t even in-play. The surface is terrible, it’s difficult to get results on it.
“I’ve been in the Championship, I’ve won it three times now. It’s about winning your home games, but if you can’t win away, you make sure you get a point. The expectation externally was we were going to win every game. Internally, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.”
There was a lot of talk about Hearts receiving the Championship trophy and whether or not they would physically lift it. Neilson feels the club handled a difficult situation well though.
“We had a lot of discussions about it, with the players, the board and the staff. We understand both sides of it, the fans’ frustration, there was another group of fans that wanted us to lift it. We have to respect the trophy and the league as a whole.
“We’re not saying there’s not still anger in the way things happened last summer, but as a club we felt we had to rise above that and for some of the players this might be their last or only Championship, so you have to give them that celebration.”
Neilson once again reiterated that the Championship is a difficult league and highlighted other teams, who in the past have found it a challenging task to get out of.
“It’s a title we won and it’s hard to do. Everyone was saying Hearts will definitely do it, but Rangers went down, it took them two years to do it. It took Hibs three years and Dundee United everybody said would come straight up, but it took them four years.”
Hearts fans may have had concerns that Peter Haring could face another spell on the treatment table, but Neilson was quick to downplay his departure.
“He’ll be fine. He just tweaked his hip, so he’ll be okay. Nothing to do with his previous injury, which was his groin.”
Hearts academy graduate Finlay Pollock made his Hearts debut off the bench yesterday and Neilson was delighted, as he explained it’s been difficult to get the young players on the pitch this season.
“He’s a good player. It’s been difficult for all the young one’s this season. Initially, there was no under 18s training and no bounce games, so these guys haven’t been playing and it’s only recently that this has changed, so we’ve been able to bring them in.”
“Finlay has done well with the 18s and done well in training, but I think he’s still a wee bit away from getting regular action in the first team, so he’ll come back in pre-season and we’ll probably put him out on loan like some of the other ones and bring them in further down the line.”
Hearts fans finally saw the good side of Gary Mackay-Steven and Neilson felt that the way the visitors played help GMS get into better positions.
“I think today’s game was like a Premiership game. Often this season, teams have put two right backs against him. Today that didn’t happen, and it allowed Gary to get into better areas to influence the game.”
Hearts managed to right the wrongs of last summer’s demotion and with Kelty Hearts and Brora Rangers still unsure on whether their playoff tie (which was cancelled yesterday) will be allowed to take place, Neilson reiterated his belief in the pyramid system.
“I don’t know the ins and outs, but I believe in the pyramid system and I think it’s really important that any team starting out has that opportunity to develop through and I think we should try do it.”
A disappointed Neil McCann said he felt for his players and for the club, as he admits his side just didn’t perform on the day.
“I thought we started brightly. Scott has the chance from the corner that we’ve worked on and he’s probably just leaning back on it a wee bit, but then we got done by the goal and then a quick second. Then I thought we got back into it a wee bit, but then miscommunication at the back killed us for the third.
“I’m really disappointed for them. I feel sorry for them, because they’ve been so good since I’ve come in. A wee while ago, we were sitting second bottom and everybody was saying we were struggling, but we steeled up, looked really solid. We just didn’t perform today though and ultimately we’ve come up short.”
Despite three goals in the first half, the touchline shenanigans between Robbie Neilson and Neil McCann was the talk of the press box. The incident saw the latter of the pair sent to the stands, however he admits that he was frustrated and just lost control of his emotions.
“I just lost my cool. I let the side down by receiving the red card. I don’t take defeat well, so I think it was purely frustration. I’ve came in here to do a job and I take it personally. It’s not just on the team that we were 3-0 down that’s on me as well, so I’ve probably just let my emotions get the best of me.”