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I pick the team

By August 18, 2016No Comments

Robbie Neilson says the buck stops with him at Tynecastle after insisting Craig Levein does not have the final say in his Hearts team.

Former Hearts skippers Michael Stewart and Gary Mackay have raised concerns about the role director of football Levein is playing.

In his Scottish Sun column, Stewart suggested he was even picking the team – asking: “Are they a Robbie Neilson team? Or are they a Craig Levein team?”

Mackay, meanwhile, claimed the Jambos were following a more robust approach, similar to the one Levein has preferred during his stints in charge of Hearts, Leicester, Dundee United and Scotland.

But Neilson rubbished those suggestions after insisting he was the man in charge of making the big football decisions.

The head coach said: “It’s my team. I pick the tactics and the team selection. The recruitment is down to me as well.

“Ultimately if the team is not performing it comes back to me. It’s got no reflection on the rest of the club.

“Those comments are disappointing but that’s the way it goes. We’ve had two fantastic seasons and this has never been brought up. But once we get a couple of bad results, this is what gets thrown at us.

“For me it’s part and parcel of being at a football club. There are always going to be people criticising.

“They are looking for something but we have been open and honest from the start. My role as head coach is to take full control of the first team and that’s what I do.”

Neilson insists he is perfectly happy with the partnership he has with the former national team boss.

And he believes the scepticism over Levein’s role is based on the fact many supporters and pundits are unsure as to what his job at Tynecastle actually entails.

“I have a fantastic relationship with Craig,” said Neilson, whose side will hope to end a five-game run without a win when they take on Inverness on Saturday.

“He’s been great with me.

“It’s the way football is going at the moment. Gone are the days when it was a butcher made good that takes over the club and they run it with the manager.

“We have an infrastructure here and as you can see it’s a huge club. We’ve moved with the times but I think the director of football role is one people in Scotland look at and wonder what goes on.

“If you look down in England and in Europe (there is a better understanding) because they’ve been doing it for 20 or 30 years.

“Craig’s role is to be a soundboard for me to speak to. I’ll go and give him my thoughts and he’ll give me his. But ultimately it is down to my decision.

“As a first-team coach you have to have full autonomy of tactics, of players coming in and who you pick in the team.

“The way it’s working it’s going well, as it has done the last two years, and I expect it to continue to flourish.”

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