It has now been confirmed that Hearts have made their move for Ian Cathro.
Sunday evening has seen BBC Sport reveal that the Edinburgh club have approached Newcastle and are in talks for the release of Rafa’s assistant.
Thursday night saw Hearts announce that Head Coach Robbie Neilson was taking over at MK Dons with their blessing.
As soon as that appointment was in the offing, the Scottish media were immediately reporting Ian Cathro as the hot favourite to replace Neilson.
It was widely reported that Newcastle won’t stand in Cathro’s way and when asked on Thursday, Rafa Benitez said there had been no ‘official approach’ yet, though of course that won’t have prevented Newcastle United indicating their intentions privately.
Ian Cathro has worked with (Hearts) Director of Football Craig Levein in the past and he would be joining a club currently competing for European football, as they are now third top in the Scottish Premier – two points behind second placed Rangers.
If the Newcastle man takes the job, he would become the youngest ever Manager/Head Coach in Scotland’s top tier at the age of 30, though with Robbie Neilson handed the job when only 33, Hearts are clearly prepared to give youth a chance.
If/when Ian Cathro does move, Newcastle fans would then await with interest to see what Rafa Benitez’ response to it would be.
Hearts Official Statement (Thursday 1 December):
“The club can confirm that we have agreed terms with Milton Keynes Dons FC in relation to head coach Robbie Neilson and assistant head coach Stevie Crawford.
“Ann Budge, the board of directors and everyone at Heart of Midlothian Football Club would like to sincerely thank Robbie and Stevie for the enormous part they have played in helping to re-establish the club in the upper echelons of Scottish football.
“The record-breaking 2014-15 Championship-winning season, which secured our promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking, will long live in the memory of Hearts supporters, as will the highly impressive third-place finish and the return to European football which was achieved the following season.
“They leave us in an enviable position, sitting second in the Premiership table with a healthy playing squad, rich with talent and promise. We wish them every success in their new challenge with Milton Keynes Dons FC.
“We will now begin the formal process of recruiting a new head coach and assistant head coach. A further statement confirming interim arrangements for our game against Ross County on Saturday, will be released tomorrow morning.”