Dundee United title-winner not surprised that Robbie Neilson wants a Lee McCulloch reunion


PAUL WATSON insists it is no surprise to see Robbie Neilson attempting to put the band back together at Hearts.

The defender was a title-winner with Dundee United last season and, while boss Neilson gained the plaudits, he reckons the energy of ‘infectious’ first-team coach Lee McCulloch was pivotal.

Neilson has confirmed that he plans to hold talks with ‘Jig’ with a view to a role on his staff at Tynecastle following his shock switch to the Jambos last month.

Lee McCulloch recently left his position on the coaching staff at Dundee United | Hearts news
Lee McCulloch is thought to be on Robbie Neilson’s radar once more

Watson, meanwhile, has signed a two-year deal with Dunfermline after the Tannadice outfit declined to offer him a new deal and, notwithstanding from his grievances regarding how his departure was handled, has ample praise for the dugout team who claimed the Championship crown.

Watson said: “Jig [McCulloch] is really approachable and is a brilliant link between the players and the manager.

“He did that role really well at Dundee United, was excellent around the boys and just lifted everything around the club when it was needed. He’s an infectious personality and is full of energy.

“Jig’s a great character and did that traditional assistant manager role – being among the boys, having a laugh and a joke and keeping morale up. That’s a massive thing over the course of a long, tough season.

“But when we got on the grass and the sessions were going, he had that serious side – he’s been a manager so knows all about that side of it – and expected us to do our business properly.”

Hearts may also swoop for Neilson’s old number two, Gordon Forrest, after new United gaffer Micky Mellon confirmed that he has also departed the club.

And Watson continued: “All three of them set very high standards and the work on the training pitch is excellent.

“They are a team that really compliments each other so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Robbie tries to get that unit together at Hearts.”

Robbie Neilson in jovial mood at Riccarton | Hearts news
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson

Watson, who made 52 appearances in two seasons under Neilson, accepts that the Jambos are now runaway favourites for the Championship title following their audacious raid on Tannadice.

However, the experienced defender will not temper his ambition with the Pars as he seeks to show Neilson he was wrong to release him in May.

Watson added: “I was disappointed with how things ended at Dundee United.

“Different conversations with people told me different things, and things didn’t play out the way I had expected. But football is a crazy game and you learn to deal with anything.

“I’m looking forward now and I’m really excited for the next chapter at a club like Dunfermline. The bare minimum for us has to be the playoffs – and you never know where you can go from there.

“With Hearts in the league, they will rightly be massive favourites due to the quality they have. But winning that league is easier said than done sometimes.”