Hearts sack manager Ian Cathro four days before start of the season

Heart of Midlothian manager Ian Cathro is seen during the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Hearts and Celtic at Tynecastle Stadium on April 2, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Hearts have sacked their head coach, Ian Cathro, just four days before the start of the Premiership season, after only seven months in charge at Tynecastle.

The Edinburgh club acted swiftly following their failure to reach the Betfred Cup second round after finishing behind Dunfermline and Peterhead in their group.

A statement on the club’s official website read: “Craig Levein, Hearts’ director of football, has confirmed that head coach Ian Cathro will leave the club with immediate effect.

“The board wishes it to be known that this was a very difficult decision, reluctantly made, as every member of the board recognises that Ian is an extremely talented young coach with a very bright future ahead of him.”

Cathro was appointed in December, after working as assistant to the current Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo at Rio Ave in Portugal and Valencia. He then went on to work with Steve McClaren at Newcastle, and stayed on after Rafa Benitez arrived in March 2016.

The 31-year-old won only five of his 22 league games in charge, as the club finished fifth in the Scottish Premiership, 60 points behind the champions Celtic and 12 points away from European qualification, despite being third when Cathro arrived. They were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by their city rivals Hibernian.

The club hoped a transfer window and pre-season would transform the situation after six of their eight winter signings departed at the end of the season, and the arrival of the likes of Christophe Berra and Kyle Lafferty rekindled optimism.

But a defeat at Peterhead and home draw with Dunfermline ensured Hearts were the only Premiership team missing from the Betfred Cup second-round draw and fans reacted angrily after the Pars won a penalty shootout on Saturday.

Hearts begin their league campaign with four consecutive away games against Celtic, Kilmarnock, Rangers and Motherwell while their new main stand is completed and the pressure was only likely to build further.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Guardian sport and agencies, for The Guardian on Tuesday 1st August 2017 10.47 Europe/London

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