Robbie Neilson returns to the Tynecastle dugouts on July 11. He takes his Dundee United side to Gorgie to face Hearts in Betfred Cup competition.
The current Tangerines boss left the Jambos for MK Dons back in 2016. This will be the first time he has faced them since.
For what was his first job in management, Neilson didn’t fare too badly.
Neilson guided Hearts out of a difficult Championship
Hearts had just exited administration in the summer of 2014. As the club looked to go out with the old and in with the new, they brought in rookie boss Neilson for his first senior spell as manager.
A baptism of fire no doubt, but with the help of Director of Football Craig Levein, Ann Budge and the rest of the Jambos hierarchy were confident Neilson could lead them out of the Championship.
Lead them out of the league? Hearts destroyed the division under his guidance. They didn’t lose a game till January and had managed to beat a team by 10 goals. There was clearly no stopping this Jambos pursuit of second tier success.
Initial Premiership honeymoon period
Neilson started out his first season as a manager in the Premiership with five consecutive wins. He managed to guide them to an excellent third-place finish with Europa League qualification in the bag to boot.
The following season though, Hearts fans were disgruntled with the style of play Neilson was implementing. The ex-Jambos boss was often accused of playing it safe in the Premiership, a sharp contrast to when they went all out to score as many goals as possible in the Championship.
Eventually, Hearts and Neilson parted ways. He joined up with MK Dons in November 2016, leaving the Gorgie side in second place, following a victory over Rangers at Tynecastle.
Ultimately, Neilson was very good for Hearts. He led them into the new era following administration and played some decent stuff along the way.
The club secured a second place finish, European football and solidity in the top flight, following the second tier promotion. Neilson laid new foundations for the club on the park in the wake of Hearts’ administration exit.
For that, the ex-Jambo player, coach and manager deserves credit.