BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Juwon Oshaniwa insists he was not surprised to see head coach Robbie Neilson linked with a move to the English Premier League and believes Hearts’ ‘father figure’ is destined for the very top.
Neilson was quoted by bookies this week as a possible successor to Tim Sherwood at Aston Villa, mixing with the likes of Sean Dyche and Brendan Rodgers as fifth favourite.
The 35-year-old has been in management for little more than a year but appears to be building a glowing a reputation after leading the Jambos to last season’s Championship title and back to the Premiership.
Neilson himself yesterday dismissed the link and insisted he has plenty of work – and learning – left to do at Tynecastle.
But Oshaniwa is full of praise for the ‘gifted’ 35-year-old – not just for his coaching credentials but also for the way he heads up the Jambos ‘family’.
The Nigeria international defender said: “Even before my arrival, I read a lot about Hearts since he took over and, when I came here, I saw the kind of experience he’s got.
“He’s a young coach who is ambitious and he always wants you to give everything. Such passion will always attain a greater height.
“For me, this is a good start for him.
“I was telling my colleagues who used to play in the national team that this is a coach I love so much. His philosophy, everything is perfect.
“I’m not surprised he is being linked with other clubs.
“Football is all about movement and you can never tell what his journey is going to be.
“It all depends on him making the move or not but I expect this sort of stuff to come his way.”
Neilson has pieced together a squad with players from the likes of Nigeria, Ghana, Turkey, Poland, Brazil, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands, as well as Scotland.
And Oshaniwa admits it is the personal touch that he believes will propel Hearts and their boss upwards and onwards.
The 25-year-old, who is fit again to face Partick Thistle this afternoon, added: “Every manager has their own philosophy but I saw something distinct in Robbie.
“He is so quick, he is so sweet, it is awesome to work with him.
“To be a sound gaffer, it’s not about on the pitch alone. You need to have a good relationship with the players.
“This is one of the characteristics he’s got.
“He’s got good relationships with us. He knows how to talk to us, he probably knows what every one of us wants, what are our dos and don’ts.
“This can carry the family to greater heights.
“If you are a family man, you know what your wife wants and what your children want. This is the family he is running.
“He’s got good relationships with us and he’s moving us ahead.”