CRAIG GORDON remembers Robbie Neilson as a steady hand in front of him as part of Hearts' back four.

Now he expects his new manager to be equally as dependable in the dugout barking orders and setting up his new squad to play the way he wants. The goalkeeper didn't take long to make up his mind when he heard of the Jambos interest.

He knows the club inside out, he knows the majority of the players given that he's played against them or, in some cases, alongside them. That includes the new boss Neilson, with whom he spent six years as a teammate. That is when he learned that the ex-Dundee United had it in him to become a top coach.

It's why he's so excited to get started on the training pitch. To see first-hand how much Neilson has changed and moulded a style of play to his liking. "As a player, [Robbie] was very dependable," Gordon said. "Very steady and he very rarely made a mistake. He was one of those players you could rely on, if the ball was coming over to the back post he would be tucked in to head it away.

"He was very good positionally and would always do what was necessary for the team’s needs. You take that out and put it into a managerial situation, someone dependable, organised and there when you need him. Those are great qualities to have. From very early on I thought he would make that step into management and he has been very successful.

"Coming back, I’m sure he’ll continue the work he started a few years ago. So I’m delighted to now be working under his management. There have been a lot of happy times here and I have a lot of people to thank for bringing me through the youth system here and giving me a chance to play professional football.

"I have already seen a few familiar faces. At this stage in my career I’m very thankful for the opportunity."

Gordon recently penned a two-year deal back in Gorgie after leaving Celtic but he had offers on the table from the Hoops - albeit reportedly a pittance of his initial wage - and St Mirren in the Premiership. He wasn't fazed by a drop into Scottish football's second tier, though. And Neilson didn't have to do the hard sell on the phone, either.

"He was great on the phone. We spoke for about 20 minutes and he sees it as the start of a new project. That’s what I wanted. To come into something right at the beginning. Robbie wants to put his stamp on it and he wants to be part of it. As soon as we had that chat I realised this is what I want to do.

"Hearts is a huge club. This is all temporary. We want to build something really strong and the people are all in place to do that. The structure of the club is looking really strong, the fan base is huge. The way they support this club and have done over the last number of years the Foundation of Hearts and the backing they have given through difficult times – I don’t think you’d find that in too many places.

"This club means a great deal to a lot of people and for anybody thinking of jingling Hearts I think this is a great time to come in and start something new."

Hearts means a lot to the supporters, but there's another familiar face to Gordon who remains deeply invested in the club. Christophe Berra was shipped out by previous manager Daniel Stendel in unsanctimonious circumstances when he was told he had no future at the club and sent to Dundee on loan.

The centre-half, however, was one of the first people to chat with his old pal after he re-joined and Gordon is pleased to still have the 35-year-old's experience at the club. "I spoke to Christophe and he has absolutely no regrets about what happened," he said.

"These things can happen. It happened to me in the last season at Celtic from thinking pre-season that I would be a big part of the team to just making a handful of appearances. You never can tell. That’s what can happen, regardless of who you are what team you are at. Things move on and managers make decisions, other players come in and these things are possible.

"Christophe knows that and is quite philosophical about it. That’s football. I have spoke to him and he is just excited to getting back training and giving himself the best opportunity to try and play games again. He is a great professional which is the reason he has been captain of this club. To have him in and around the place to be a leader, you want as many of those as you can get and it’s going to make for a very successful dressing-room."