PETER Houston has held talks with Hearts and is expected to be named as their new manager within days, with the likelihood being that his first match in charge will be the League Cup final against St Mirren next Sunday.
The former Dundee United manager is favourite to replace John McGlynn, who lost his job last month after four consecutive defeats.
Houston told BBC Scotland: “I’ve spoken to Hearts and there will be further talks in the next 48 hours.
“But there are other people in the frame. It’s not just me. A lot of people are jumping the gun.”
Caretaker manager Gary Locke is set to continue for today’s league derby against Hibernian.
Houston said he had spoken briefly to managing director David Southern and director of football John Murray. “I had questions to ask and they were very honest – and we’ll speak again,” he said.
Hearts successfully fended off a winding-up order from HMRC before Christmas when fans bought into a share issue to allow the club to settle their tax bill and the collapse of Vladimir Romanov’s personal finances has sparked fears over the club’s future. But Houston, who left Tannadice in January, was reassured by his initial discussions.
The former Hearts coach said: “A lot of the players are out of contract at the end of the season and some of those are big earners.
“So Hearts are coming back to what Hearts used to be.
“I spent eight and a half years at Tynecastle as coach, youth coach, reserve coach, assistant manager and caretaker manager. The club is going back to reality in many ways and will need to work under a structured budget.
“I was sceptical as regards the situation but I was very pleased by what I heard. They are confident they can be self-sufficient but the next 18 months will still be very hard.
“Hearts are a fantastic club, they are a big club and a club that Scottish football needs.”
Hearts great John Robertson has expressed his disappointment over the lack of dialogue with the club about the job.
Robertson, who managed the club in season 2004/05 before being sacked by Romanov, was told he was included in a four-man short-list sent to Lithuania but has heard nothing since.
He said: “No-one from the club has spoken to me at all other than to say there will be a decision in the next 48 hours. It would appear I’m certainly not in their thoughts.
“Personally, am I disappointed that no-one has even come and spoken to me? Yes I am.
“I got a phone call this morning so say there will be a decision in the next 48 hours. Peter has spoken to them and it’s great for him.”