HEARTS believe they will have little trouble finding a quality replacement for John McGlynn, who left the club yesterday after just eight months at the helm, but they insist there is no desperate rush to have the new manager installed ahead of the League Cup final on 17 March.
Despite having significant difficulties to negotiate on and off the field this term, the club announced that the manager had left the club “by mutual consent” after they fell to second bottom of the SPL on Wednesday night, having won just one of their last nine league games.
First-team coach Gary Locke and player development manager Darren Murray took training yesterday and have been placed in temporary charge of the team, with two home games against Motherwell and St Johnstone looming before the capital derby at Easter Road a week on Sunday and then the final against St Mirren.
The move was not unpopular with fans, who have been unhappy with what they consider negative formations and team selections which have reaped just seven wins and 27 goals in 28 league games. Hearts’ defence of the Scottish Cup was also cut short at the hands of city rivals Hibs and, while they have reached this month’s Hampden showdown with St Mirren, they required penalty shoot-out victories in two of their three games en route. “I don’t think I could have done any more but the league table doesn’t lie and I know it’s a results-driven business,” said McGlynn, who added that he was very grateful to have been given the chance to manage Hearts as it was his ‘dream job’. “We had a lot of difficult circumstances to deal with and they have taken their toll in the end but no-one will be more delighted than me if the team can go on and win the League Cup.”
“When John came to the club Hearts was embarking on a transitional phase in the club’s history. He began that important period of change and it is now imperative we find the right man to take that transition forward. “
The job of drawing up the short list of possible successors will be down to Managing Director David Southern and Director of Football John Murray. They will then make representations to members of the club board, Roman Romanov, Sergejus Fedotovas, Julija Goncaruk and Vitalijus Vasiliauskas, with majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov also likely to have a say, according to the club.
But while McGlynn and his predecessors have had an often torrid time thanks to off field issue and despite the fact the club is in the midst of major cost cutting, reducing player salaries to ensure the club is self-sustainable, Southern believes there will be no shortage of quality candidates.
Even with the new financial constraints, the club’s budget for players’ salaries remains the second highest in the SPL and with more than 10,000 at most home games, they also boast some of the highest crowds in the top flight. Add to that the young players coming through and the fact the club insists there will be money made available for the new manager to add greater experience to the squad to ensure the blend in right ahead of the new campaign and Southern says the job remains a highly attractive one.
Several names have already been linked with the position, with aspiring young coaches like Paul Hartley, Steven Pressley, Colin Cameron and Allan Johnston amongst those mooted by fans. Some supporters have also asked that Locke and Murray be considered for a prolonged stay if they impress in the upcoming games. But many others believe that they need to aim for someone with more SPL know-how as they attempt to steady the ship and move back up the table, with Derek McInnes one of the favourites given his proven ability to work within a tight budget and produce a team that punches above its weight in the SPL. Like one of the other key contenders, John Roberston, he is also understood to be interested in the vacancy. But others such as Craig Levein, Jimmy Calderwood and Peter Houston are also among the bookies choices.
Southern said it was too early in the process to box themselves in with preferred criteria, nationality of level of experience, saying he was willing to consider all options before drawing up the shortlist.
“There are more managers out there looking for a job than ever and more players out there looking for clubs as well. But we need someone who understands the size of this club and the level of expectation and who believes those expectations are realistic. We are used to challenging for trophies and competing in Europe. We know we have no god given right to be that but that is what we all want. Everyone needs to play their part in that and we want a manager who can help us continue with a winning philosophy.
“The good thing is we have Gary Locke and Darren Murray in place to take the team just now so we don’t need to rush the process. We need to get the right person for the job.”