BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
DON COWIE has backed Robbie Neilson to use MK Dons as a springboard to the big-time in England after insisting the outgoing Hearts boss is as good as any manager he has ever worked under.
The 33-year-old is no stranger to the game south of the border after stints with Watford, Cardiff and Wigan and has plied his trade under the likes of Malky Mackay, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and Gary Caldwell.
And he firmly believes Neilson, who is likely to be confirmed as MK Dons boss in the next 48 hours, has all the attributes to use the League One as a stepping stone to the highest level.
Speaking after Neilson bowed out with a fine 2-0 win over Rangers at Tynecastle, Cowie lauded: “We’re not daft and Robbie has been honest with us about the situation, that he’d been given permission to speak to MK [Dons].
“The important thing was we got the win to take us to second place. But, in terms of Robbie, I’m coming to the end of my career and have played under a few managers – he is right up there.
“The man-management, the way he looks after the players and his passion for the job is second to none.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if it is a stepping stone for much bigger things. He is still young and, in the time I have worked under him, he has been fantastic.
“If he keeps improving – which he has in the time I have been here – and changing and evolving then he will be a top manager.”
With a double from Robbie Muirhead – a player Neilson took a gamble on after failing to shine at Dundee United – sealing a triumph over the Gers, sending Hearts into second spot, his send-off could not have gone any better.
A sweeping chant of ‘One Robbie Neilson’ went around Tynecastle on the 90 minute mark and Cowie reckons it would have been an emotional moment for the Jambos head coach.
“When you see the crowd, the atmosphere and the fans singing his name it would make you a bit emotional and think ‘it could be difficult to leave’,” added Cowie. “But, if it does go through, he obviously feels it is the right move.
“He has enjoyed a terrific two and a half years in charge and perhaps he feels it is time to move on.
“There is always a temptation to go south and it is enticing. I’m maybe surprised at the level – I thought it would be a Championship team that came in for Robbie but maybe he sees it as a great chance to get down there.”