Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson has praised the Hamilton board for sticking by manager Martin Canning in the wake of their Celtic Park annihilation.
Accies’ barren winless run was stretched to eight games on Tuesday evening when the Hoops inflicted an embarrassing 8-1 thrashing.
That increased the pressure on Canning, who has only mastermind one victory in Hamilton’s last 15 matches, but chairman Les Gray has backed the 34-year-old to lead the team away from relegation trouble.
Even though Neilson will be looking to compound Accies’ woes tomorrow afternoon, he is pleased to see his New Douglas Park counterpart handed a vote of confidence.
Neilson said: “You do feel for Martin but one of the pleasing things is the board have stuck by him.
“Very rarely does that happen in football these days, which is great.
“He’s had a tough time but it takes a while to build a team. It takes a good two years to really set your stamp on it.
“Twenty years ago you’d get five years in a job. So it’s really pleasing to see that.
“You want the backing of the board, that’s the most important thing.
“You need the people above to have faith and they stand by you.
“Hamilton are doing that, which is great.
“They had a difficult start but they went on a great run. Now they’ve gone through a difficult period.
“He has a good squad there and I think they’ll definitely be safe in the Premiership.
“I expect them to come out fighting and really have a go at us.”
Hearts’ impressive five-game winning start to the Premiership was brought to a shuddering halt at Hamilton in August’s controversial 3-2 defeat.
The hosts scored two late goals after Hearts defender Callum Paterson was ordered off – a decision that was later downgraded to a yellow card on appeal – by referee Willie Collum.
That set-back triggered a three-game losing streak for Hearts but Neilson, whose side have produced two of their best performances of the season in successive wins over Aberdeen and Motherwell, insists that defeat was a wake-up call.
He said: “I wouldn’t say we have a score to settle, we just want to go down there and win.
“Whenever you lose a game you are disappointed.
“But it was a wee bit of a reality check for us.
“We got five good results at the start of the season but to be honest with you we weren’t really playing that well. We were winning games 4-3 and 2-1.
“I think we are in far better form now.”