Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes the Hearts players must shoulder some responsibility for getting Ian Cathro sacked.
Craig Levein, who was appointed as Cathro’s successor, will take charge of the Jambos for the first time in his second spell in the Hearts dugout when the Dons visit Murrayfield tomorrow.
Hearts interim head coach Jon Daly and forward Cole Stockton both claimed the players were not fit enough during Cathro’s time in charge.
But McInnes feels plenty of sympathy for the 31-year-old and the manner in which his time at the Gorgie club ended.
He said: “It always saddens me to hear comments from players once a manager has been sacked.
“There were one or two things about not being fit enough and this or that.
“But for me, when a manager loses his job it’s a collective responsibility, the staff and the players.
“Everyone has played some role in a manager losing his job.
“What Craig will do is put his stamp on it and it may well be different. It probably has to be because results were not coming.
“Craig has seen Hearts more than anyone so he will know what needs to be addressed and he will have his own ideas about how to get results.”
Paul Hartley and Steven Pressley were among the contenders for the Tynecastle job but McInnes was not surprised to see the club turn to former Scotland manager Levein, the club’s director of football.
He said: “Hearts have obviously felt the need for that stability and an experienced pair of hands and Craig being in the building already, it seems now, quite an obvious appointment.
“I’m sure he’ll be relishing the opportunity and determined to make sure it goes as well as it can.
“It’s not unusual for a club to go from a younger manager if it hasn’t worked to turn to an experienced manager.
“I’m sure that whoever they appointed has got a very good chance there as Hearts have got a good squad.”
Midfielder Gary Mackay-Steven is fit and available for this weekend’s match after being rescued from a river during the international break, while Icelandic international Kari Arnason has returned from his side’s World Cup qualifying double header against Finland and Ukraine without any adverse effects.
McInnes added: “Gary is fine. He has trained all week and has been excellent.
“There isn’t a problem with him.
“We are delighted he’s fine and now he has to get people talking about his performances again.”