It has been a harsh baptism for Ian Cathro since taking on his first job in management seven months ago.
Hearts were second in the table when he arrived in December but badly fell away to finish fifth, 60 points off champions Celtic and 30 behind runners-up Aberdeen.
The only member of the coaching staff to be kept on by Rafa Benitez after replacing Steve McClaren, the easy route would have been no doubt for Ian Cathro to continue working with the Champions League winning boss but he was brave enough to take the step.
The pair face each other at Tynecastle tomorrow night with Hearts hosting Newcastle, though Cathro has revealed that the two of them ‘have stayed in touch and caught up during the summer as well’.
Describing Rafa as ‘a good man’, the Hearts boss says the Spaniard is ‘someone who wants to support people’.
Ian Cathro also is happy to declare that he will ‘put more value’ on conversations/advice from somebody like Rafa Benitez, than ‘other people who don’t come from’ the Newcastle manager’s level.
Ian Cathro speaking to STV News:
“It is definitely something that sharpens your mind, the little spaces that you can maybe leave some players you play against, you cannot leave when the likes of Jonjo Shelvey are on the ball.
“It is important that we all know that this game is a real test.
“On a personal level, it will be a nice moment having worked and prepared a team to play against a team of Rafa’s.
“I put more value on things like that and conversations from people who come from that level of the game, than from other people who don’t – as you can imagine, so it will be a pleasant moment.
“It will be nice to see the players as well and congratulate then on getting the club back to where it needs to be.
“Wish them well but get on with the game and make sure it serves its purpose for us preparing for competition on Tuesday.
“We (Ian Cathro and Rafa Benitez) have stayed in touch and caught up during the summer as well, discussing a number of things.
“He is someone who has a tremendous level of experience and someone who wants to support people, so he is a good man.”