BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
FORMER Hearts boss Gary Locke has backed interim head coach Jon Daly to steady the ship at Tynecastle – and stun Celtic this weekend.
Daly, 34, has been handed the reins following the dismissal of Ian Cathro on Tuesday morning, with fellow coaches Austin MacPhee and Liam Fox set to assist him until a permanent successor is found.
The ex-Rangers and Dundee United striker faces a baptism of fire on Saturday, with Hearts paired with Brendan Rodgers’ Invincible league champions at Parkhead.
“Playing Celtic is a huge task for us. There is no harder place to go in Scottish football than Celtic Park,” acknowledged Locke. “They are the current league champions and a great side. But we need to go there with belief.
“We have signed a lot of good players over the summer – a lot of international players who will have confidence – and I have no doubt Jon [Daly], along with the rest of the backroom staff, will have the lads organised.
“They can go and enjoy the occasion because, aside from ourselves and the Hearts supporters, I don’t think many people expect us to through there and win.
“In that respect, the pressure is off, so go through there, enjoy it and play as well as I know we can. If we do that, I know we can win.”
Locke, meanwhile, insists he can feel Cathro’s pain after the young coach was dismissed.
A miserable tenure came to a head following the Jambos’ Betfred Cup exit against Dunfermline on Saturday, which prompted angry fans to vent their fury towards the dugout and the directors’ box.
Locke is no stranger to the disappointment being felt by Cathro, having been the man axed by owner Ann Budge and director of football Craig Levein in the summer of 2014 to make way for Robbie Neilson.
Now back at the club in an ambassadorial role, Locke told Hearts TV: “It’s been a really difficult few days at the club. I’ve been there before myself as a manager and it’s not nice when you leave a club and my thoughts are certainly with Ian [Cathro] at the moment.
“He has been through a very difficult couple of weeks. It’s not something, in reflection, that is ideal – but we have got to move forward as a club.
“Ian’s gone and someone else will come in, so it is important that everyone here sticks together; the board, the staff, the players and the supporters especially.
“We have a really big season ahead, we want to do well and the only way we will do that is by everybody pulling in the same direction.”
Gary Locke was speaking ahead of the latest Gorgie Live event, which offers fans the opportunity to watch the match from the Gorgie Suite, Tynecastle, in the company of Locke, Jimmy Sandison, Scott Crabbe and Darren Jackson. Tickets include a pie and a pint. More information is available at http://www.heartsfc.co.uk/news/6079