Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson talks Craig Levein, Gordon Strachan, SFA and Scotland job



HEARTS head coach Robbie Neilson has learned of the difficulties of international management from Craig Levein and heard of his own players’ enjoyment on Scotland duty, and insists keeping Gordon Strachan in post is the right decision.

Levein is Strachan’s predecessor with the national team and, after becoming the latest Scotland boss to fail in qualification, now oversees Neilson’s work in his role as Hearts’ director of football.

Discussions between the pair have illuminated for Neilson the problems an international manager faces, including those currently heaping pressure on under-fire Strachan.


And, armed with that insight into the job, Neilson believes the Scottish FA are right to have given Strachan their backing – and insists everyone else should too.

He said: “Craig [Levein] and I talk all the time about every aspect of football, and this is a conversation we’ve had.

“It’s a big jump to go from club football to international football, because you get no time to prepare – and then a long wait for the next game.

“Our next international game is in March, right? In that time, you won’t have any time on the pitch, no time to prep the players.

“So it’s a really tough job – and a job that Gordon is very good at. He gets the players behind him. We’ve just got to try to back him.”


Though he was ‘dropped’ for the England encounter last week, Hearts full-back Callum Paterson has made his full international breakthrough under Strachan and keeper Jack Hamilton has earned a call-up to recent squads.

Neilson, whose Hearts side face Hamilton Accies on Monday, is hopeful more of his players can make a convincing case for inclusion for future games and, despite recent disappointments, is adamant Strachan is the right man to still be at the helm.

He added: “I know there’s been a lot of negativity about Scotland. But it’s important that we keep some continuity there with Gordon.

“He’s a good coach, probably the best for the job at the moment – and it’s a tough job.

“Chopping and changing doesn’t help anywhere. If you look at the stats at any level, changing a manager very rarely makes much of a difference.”