Hearts boss Neilson accepts being under pressure is part of the job

Motherwell are on to their third manager this season as they prepare to host Hearts.

Hearts boss Neilson accepts being under pressure is part of the job SNS Group

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson claims he thrives on the precarious nature of his chosen profession as he prepares to face a Motherwell team looking for their third manager of the season.

Steven Hammell took over from Graham Alexander following Motherwell’s Europa Conference League exit and 48 hours before the start of Motherwell’s league campaign, but he was sacked in the wake of last weekend’s Scottish Cup defeat by Raith Rovers.

Neilson said: “It doesn’t matter whether you are young or experienced. When you go into a club, you have got to win. The difficulty is, every weekend, every team is expected to win nowadays.

“I know Hammy very well over the years through Scotland and the under-21s even, a great guy.

“Football is difficult, especially management. You don’t get a long period in it at times if you are not winning games.

“But I’m sure Hammy will reflect on things and come back stronger.”

Neilson is now the second longest-serving manager in Scotland’s top flight behind St Johnstone’s Callum Davidson, having taken over at Hearts in the summer of 2020.

“It’s just the nature of football now,” the former MK Dons and Dundee United boss said. “If you look down in England, the average tenure is getting down to almost a year, if it is that.

“You just have to take every game as it comes, you can’t plan too far ahead. In the background you are doing a bit of planning for the summer but the majority of planning for us, I would say 95 per cent of it, is for the next game.

“It’s the nature of the beast and it’s something that you like. Because if you had that long-term plan, if you say ‘I am definitely going to be here for five years’, you could take your eye off the ball on a Saturday.

“The most important thing is winning. Especially at a club this size, you have to win the next game and the next game and, if you get beat, it’s all eyes on the one after that.

“It’s what I like about it, you are always under pressure to perform and you have to go and do it.”

Caretaker manager Stuart Kettlewell will be in the home dugout at Fir Park on Sunday after leading Motherwell to their first league win in 12 games in midweek.

Neilson said: “When a manager leaves and someone comes in in the interim, it’s going to be different. There will be different ideas coming in.

“I watched them on Wednesday against St Mirren and they changed their shape, went 3-5-2 and a bit more direct in their play, more aggressive, and they got the result. So I would expect them to stick with that.

“When you play against teams that are in that interim basis, you never really know what you are going to get.”

Meanwhile, Neilson welcomed the Scottish Cup quarter-final draw which paired Hearts with Celtic at Tynecastle.

“We spoke about it to the players already, I think it’s a great draw,” he said. “When you are going to win a Scottish Cup, 99 times out of 100 you are going to have to beat the Old Firm at some stage of the competition, and to get a home tie in the quarter-finals is great. A full house, it will be a great game.

“It’s a very difficult team to play against but if we are going to play them anywhere, we would rather play them at home.”

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