Hearts boss Ian Cathro insists working under Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United has reinforced the belief he has in own ability


Hearts head coach Ian Cathro insists working under celebrated manager Rafa Benitez has ensured that his belief in delivering success from the dugout will not wane.

The 31-year-old will be reunited with the Spaniard when Newcastle United visit Tynecastle in tonight’s pre-season friendly, having been part of the 2005 Champions League winner’s backroom staff for nine months at St Jame’s Park.

Cathro is still in contact with the vastly experienced former Real Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea and Napoli and Inter Milan manager and even returned to Tyneside earlier this summer to catch-up with his former colleagues.

Former Dundee United youth coach Cathro insists Benitez’s ability to have unwavering confidence in his own ideas is something he hopes to emulate at Hearts, despite enduring a difficult start after replacing Robbie Neilson last December.

He said: “I learned a lot working with Rafa, as I did with all of the other people.

“I was only at the club with him for a short period of time but it was also an intense period of time.

“We had to try and stay in the league, then we had to reshape the squad to try and prepare for the Championship. It was a valuable period of time.

“We talked about a lot of things. Some of that I’ll keep to myself but the biggest thing was him saying that you grow by taking the step and the challenge.

“I think the most impressive thing is the conviction he has in his ideas.

“It’s about how well you can convince players of those ideas.

“He’s got a remarkable calmness and clarity in his thoughts, even in the most difficult moments inside of games.

“He sees things clearly and can react quickly. That probably comes over time and from living out a lot of different experiences.

“He’s been coaching from a very young age. Everybody thinks about the Champions League win and the top clubs but he started at a lower level and had some difficult moments.

“There’s not a bit of football he hasn’t been involved in.

“To give yourself a chance of being successful you have to believe in the work that you do. That’s not been something I had to take from anybody.

“It comes naturally to me but maybe it’s been reinforced by others, like Rafa.”

Cathro insists the 57-year-old is always at the end of the phone if ever he needs any advice.

He added: “We’ve caught up and we saw each other for a bit in the summer. We were looking ahead and chatting about a number of things.

“It’s nice to be able to call upon people who are at that level of the game.

“It makes it easier to forget comments from people who are working at a lower level in the game.”

Cathro, meanwhile, insists a clash against the English top-flight newcomers will accelerate his side’s preparation for the new campaign, which begins on Tuesday in a Betfred Cup clash at Elgin City.

He added: “It’s the right test for us. We definitely need to sharpen up a bit.

“To do that for competition you need to play against a team that’s at a level above you.

“We look forward to that test. Things have been really positive for us so far and I’ve been pleased with the level of games that we selected.

“Now we need to be on the pitch against top players. We need that stress and I’m hopeful that Friday gives us that and we can move forward to Tuesday being as ready as we can be.”