Ian Cathro plays down Bjorn Johnsen fracas as Hearts face Celtic
The Hearts manager Ian Cathro tried to play down the dressing-room fracas that captured headlines in the wake of Wednesday night’s defeat by St Johnstone and switch focus to their final league match of the season, a daunting trip to Celtic Park to face the champions as they seek to make history and complete their “invincible” league campaign.
He claimed to be bemused by the attention the argument has attracted and said that his relationship with the summer signing remains unaltered.
“It’s no different to Tuesday or Monday or last week,” said Cathro. “Bjorn [pictured below] trained and trained well. I saw some of [the reports] and a lot of that was incorrect. There were a lot of us not particularly pleased with 20 to 25 minutes towards the end of that first half. We were not happy about it. How that has developed into a bit of story, I’m not really sure why. Bjorn has trained well and he is focused and ready to be available to play on Sunday.
“It’s life, we’re human beings, we compete and we want to win. When things aren’t right, you don’t like it. It’s about dealing with things properly, sometimes you go off in one direction and sometimes you go another. Sometimes it’s perfectly all right and sometimes you cross the line. These are things that are part of competition, part of football. We all work together every single day to have the same outcome.”
The fact the US striker and the manager had to be separated as frustrations bubbled over has ensured that the spotlight remains on a side many fear may be lambs to the slaughter as Brendan Rodgers’ men attempt to wrap up the term in swashbuckling form.
Hearts were the team on the wrong end of a doing when the Glasgow side sealed the title, but the fact they competed in the early stages offers a glimmer of hope for the travelling Tynecastle troops. “They are an excellent team. They can adapt, they can do different things and they can do it very quickly, “ said Cathro.
“The first bit is stopping them but with the idea that we want to go and be able to compete against them. They are not often asked to defend for prolonged periods so it’s about us being able to try to attack more often and be aggressive in our attitude.
“Talking about that is a helluva lot easier than doing it, of course, but it certainly has to be our attitude to the game. We had good chances to score goals when we last played them but we didn’t and then Scott Sinclair had two touches and broke our net.”
Celtic have broken spirits and hopes with their quality but, given their own poor form and having watched as the Parkhead side dismantled Partick Thistle on Thursday, winger Jamie Walker says that at least Hearts will not be burdened by high expectation.
“We have nothing to lose, it’s a no pressure match,” said Walker. “Hopefully we can go there and maybe relax and see what happens. Everybody is writing us off because no-one has beaten them all season but we have just got to try and work hard and hopefully get a result.
“I think it says a lot about them, to go through a whole season up to now and not lose one game is pretty incredible.”
But if the season has been one of highs for Celtic, the lows have been dispiriting for Walker, who still has a year left on his current contract. “The gaffer has taken a lot of criticism but I think the players need to look in the mirror as well and take part of the blame,” he said. “Everyone just wants to see the back of this season and get back for pre-season.
“I don’t know if anything will happen in the summer or any offers will come. But as it stands I am still here, I am looking forward to getting a holiday and looking forward to next season.”