BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
IAN CATHRO admits it is the responsibility of his Hearts side to satisfy a demanding fanbase after insisting he would rather face an unforgiving public than “10 men and a dog”.
The Jambos head coach saw his first home match in charge end with a cacophony of jeers at Tynecastle following an underwhelming 1-1 draw against Partick Thistle in front of 16,418 supporters.
Asked whether he was a thick-skinned character, Cathro said “yes, you need to be” before acknowledging that the onus is on the players to give fans something to cheer about.
Reflecting on similar challenges when he was on the coaching staff at Newcastle last term, Cathro is adamant he would have it no other way and believes his players can handle the pressure of representing the capital club.
He said: “We’ve spoken about what a positive atmosphere Tynecastle can have. But you’ve got to feed it. That is something that everybody here accepts.
“Part of our responsibility is to feed the crowd. If you don’t do that, it’s completely natural that the reaction won’t be positive.
“We have spoken about other stadiums I’d worked in and, whereas the season in Valencia is not a great example because generally we were very successful at the Mestalla, St James’ Park sometimes didn’t help you.
“What is 100 per cent true is that, when you have a strong and powerful connection with your stadium and your home support, then it’s a strong and powerful connection – which means, if things are good, it’s unbelievable. If things are bad, then it can be difficult.
“That is our responsibility. I don’t want 10 men and a dog. We want to go and work, we want to compete – and we want everyone to come with us.”
Conor Sammon bore the brunt of the supporters’ ire on Saturday, with one particularly cruel moment seeing the being Irishman ironically jeered after winning a header in the second half.
He has subsequently been linked with a loan switch to Championship side Dundee United and, while it is understood there has been contact between the clubs, the Hearts chief is adamant he has not made any firm decisions about his squad.
Cathro continued: “I’m not at that stage with anybody yet. I have only been here for a short period of time and I am still in the process of seeing what everybody can give.
“We are playing Friday, Tuesday, Friday it is an intense point of the season. That is where we are at. Of course we are assessing things as we go along, we are looking at a variety of things and we are starting to look at the market.
“We have an idea of where we would like to go, but the next three games are our priority and everybody needs to be ready to go. And they are.”
Looking to January, director of football Craig Levein intimated at Tuesday’s annual general meeting that the new head coach would be afforded room to manoeuvre in the transfer market.
And Cathro has vowed to use all of his knowledge and Continental contacts from his time at Rio Ave and Valencia to ensure the Jambos head into the second half of the season having strengthened.
“We will be drawing on contacts from both home and abroad,” added Cathro. “That is just part of our work and what we do.
“You use everything that you can and try to get as much help as possible, and try to get as best an understanding of what could be available to us. Wherever we can spread that to we will.”
“We need to assess the market well and have an understanding of what we think we can do. It will be about doing the right business.”