BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
IAN CATHRO insists it has been no surprise to see Greek international Alexandros Tziolis become an immediate hit at Tynecastle
However, the Hearts head coach insists it is too early to discuss whether the classy midfielder could sign up for a longer stay in the capital.
The 32-year-old, who boasts 61 caps for his country, has seamlessly adapted to the rough-and-tumble of Scottish football following his arrival last month, turning in a superb cameo in the 4-1 win over Rangers before opening the scoring in a 3-0 triumph against Motherwell.
While Tziolis – like the vast majority of ball-playing midfielders on show – struggled to make an impact on Sunday’s Edinburgh derby stalemate, that has done nothing to damage his status as a fans’ favourite.
And, with Panathinaikos, Werder Bremen and Monaco on his CV, that is exactly what Cathro expected from his new playmaker.
He said: “I get the whole thing – the game is quick in Scotland and teams don’t give up. Maybe that’s the biggest difference here. No matter what your opponent will fight you all the way to the end.
“In other leagues that maybe doesn’t happen as much, but football is still football and someone who understands where the space is, where the pass is, when to make things quicker and when to make it slower is vital.
“From that point of view there was no concern about how Alex would be.
“In terms of the players who joined us, we brought people specifically to be able to play the football we want to be able to play. That makes it easier for the player to want to come. We’ve found the right players and they’ve found the right club.
“We see things similarly. Of course it’ll always take time for the more intricate bits to come to life but, overall, it shouldn’t take too long because guys like Alex are good players.”
Tziolis’ deal will expires at the end of the current campaign, with many Jambos already crossing their fingers that the he could be convinced to sign up for next term.
Indeed, of Cathro’s nine January captures, only Malaury Martin and Esmael Goncalves are contracted beyond the summer, with Tziolis, Tasos Avlonitis, Aaron Hughes, Lennard Sowah, Andraz Struna, Dylan Bikey and Moha El Ouriachi all snapped up on short-term deals.
And the Hearts gaffer is adamant all of the signings need time to stake their claim.
He added: “It’s important we give Alex – and everyone – time to fully show their qualities. I wouldn’t say any of us have done that yet.
“We have to give these things time. We feel positively now and I think everyone will improve but let’s be calm about those things [contract negotiations] and get on with our work.”