BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Peter Houston saw Robbie Neilson and Jon Daly bond in a close-knit Dundee United dressing-room and believes their coaching relationship can now flourish at Hearts.
Daly will leave Raith Rovers in January to take on the role as Hearts’ new under-20s coach following the recent departure of Jack Ross.
Houston, who began his own coaching career at Tynecastle in the 1990s, reckons the move is an astute one from his old club, who have vowed to produce a conveyor belt of coaches as well as players under director of football Craig Levein.
And the Falkirk manager insists former Rangers striker Daly, who does not yet have any coaching experience, will quickly earn respect on the training pitch.
Houston, who signed Neilson for United in 2011, said: “I am delighted for Jon and I can see why Craig and Robbie wanted him.
“I took Robbie to Dundee United when Jon was my captain and I knew there was a relationship there because it was a tight dressing room at the time.
“Robbie was in the same age group as Jon and I knew they would get on well with each other.
“I think it is a really positive move from Hearts because he has always been a guy who wants to learn the game.
“And one thing I’ll say is he’ll work well with the young players there because they’ll have great respect for him because he’ll show them it back.
“It’s funny, that’s where I started as a youth coach, and it’s good to see Jon get that opportunity at a good club. I’m sure he’ll do well, I am delighted for him.
“When I went in as a youth coach at Hearts I never thought it would guide me to where I am now and what I have done.
“So good luck to him. He’s a good guy with a good attitude and he’s a good professional.”
Daly will hang up his boots in the New Year to kick-start his coaching career and has confessed himself he may not discover his true feelings about calling time on his playing days until the moment comes.
However, Houston believes the Irishman’s history of injury problems makes the offer from Hearts a timely one.
The former Scotland assistant added: “Jon has been very unfortunate with injuries throughout his career. I’m sure his injuries have prevented him from playing at a higher level now.
“And I see this as a good move for him, simply because he’ll be thinking he’s had a lot of injuries in his career and how much does he have left?
“He’s got a bit of stability now in that he knows where his coaching career is going to start.
“And who knows where that can take him?”