BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS head coach Ian Cathro insists he wants a dressing room full of captains – but firmly believes Christophe Berra is the perfect man to wear the armband.
Berra, 32, was yesterday confirmed as the Jambos’ new skipper on his return to Gorgie, usurping U.S. internationalist Perry Kitchen.
The experienced defender, who has signed a three-year deal to rejoin his boyhood heroes, becomes their fourth permanent captain in less than four years, following a lineage of Danny Wilson, Alim Ozturk and Kitchen.
“It’s important that the captain’s role is a more constant role,” acknowledged Cathro. “It’s also important that we have a number of players who live their lives like that.
“That’s one of the biggest things that I’m looking to emphasise, that we have a number of players who are capable of delivering that in the changing room.
“I can’t talk highly enough of Don [Cowie’s] influence on the team, in every aspect over the last three or four months and he’ll continue to have a lead role in all of those things as will some others.
“It’s not something you switch on and off, it’s who they are and how they behave.
“We need more captains, we need more leaders, we need more players of stronger experience, of more resilience, of more games in their background – good moments and bad moments.”
Too often meek and without identity during a run of six wins in 26 matches under Cathro, Berra represents the sort of character Hearts are desperate to snap up this summer.
In the likes of Berra, Don Cowie and Aaron Hughes, the Jambos boss can see the shoots of a characterful group emerging.
“The leadership is something that will be delivered by more than one,” continued Cathro. “It will come from a number of players who are capable and ready. Don will remain one of those, as will Aaron [Hughes] in his own way.”
On how deposed captain Kitchen has reacted, Cathro added: “Naturally he’s not had a great time personally, having not been in the side as often as any player would have liked but that’s a personal thing.
“These are things that happen as a team evolves, as a team grows and moves on. This is a natural thing and we all move forward.
“It’s the role they play amongst people, and Perry will continue to play his part in the leadership of the group.”