GARY Locke will not make a formal application for the managerial vacancy at Hearts, despite saying that the post is his dream job.
The interim manager of the Tynecastle club along with Darren Murray, Locke believes that John McGlynn, who was relieved of his position on Thursday morning, deserved to be given more time in the job.
Locke and Murray take charge of Hearts for the first time today, when their team, second from bottom of the SPL, are at home to Motherwell. With an Edinburgh derby at Easter Road a week tomorrow then the League Cup final against St Mirren a further seven days on, Hearts face a demanding run of fixtures over the next fortnight. The board of directors has yet to indicate when they expect to make an appointment, but so far Locke is not looking beyond this afternoon’s match.
“Anybody who knows me know that the answer to that would be yes,” the former Hearts captain said yesterday at Riccarton when asked if becoming the club’s manager was his ideal position. “But it’s not something I’ve thought about.
“I’ve been here as a first-team coach for three and a half years now and loved every minute of it: some good, some bad, but I love coming in here every morning and working out on the training pitch with the players. Hopefully that can continue.
“We’ve been told we’re in charge for one game. I don’t think I really need to apply. I’m here, they know I’m here, they know what I’m capable of. I’ve got all my licenses.
“They’re talking to candidates, as far as I’m led to believe. If they think I’m the man for the job, great. If not, who knows what will happen? My only focus is Saturday’s game.”
A 2-0 defeat in Paisley on Wednesday night – Hearts’ fourth consecutive loss – was McGlynn’s last game in charge. Locke said that the first he knew of the departure was the following morning.
“The manager came in and I said ‘how are you this morning?’ His answer was ‘Not very good’, because he had been relieved of his duties – which was a massive disappointment for us all.
“It’s been a difficult couple of days. I’m really disappointed to see the manager relieved of his post. We’re all deeply disappointed. But we’ve got a game on Saturday that myself, Darren and Ed [assistant manager Edgaras Jankauskas] have been put in charge of, and we’ve just got to try and do our best and get the club back on track.
“He [McGlynn] just said it was disappointing that he lost his job, [and] ‘If you get a wee opportunity, try and take it. Be as positive as we’ve tried to be all season’.”
Asked if McGlynn should have been given longer to try to improve the team’s form, Locke continued: “I think so. It’s been a very difficult period for the club, as everyone knows.
“We’re still in a bad financial position, and we’ve had to lose a lot of quality in the first-team playing squad, and we’ve had to bring fantastic young players in, but they need a bit of experience beside them as well. We’ve not had as many experienced players in the squad this year. That has been difficult, but these young players have been brought in because we think they’re good enough.”
Andy Webster, the acting captain in the absence of the injured Marius Zaliukas and the most experienced member of the squad, believes Locke is capable of taking over as manager in the longer term. “There’s probably nobody better to take over right now than Gary Locke,” the Scotland defender said. “He played at the club for a long period of time and knows what it means. The boys will be right behind him.
“We definitely have talented players in the dressing room and we’re looking to pick up results. The atmosphere is always going to be difficult when you’ve just lost your manager, but you still need to remain as positive as you can.”
In his two separate spells as a Hearts player, Webster has served under nine different full-time managers, but he explained that it never became any easier to deal with the consequences of a sacking. “It’s still difficult circumstances. We worked with the manager pretty much every day over the course of the season, so I don’t think it becomes any easier,” he said.
“As a team and with John as manager we have done well to get to the League Cup final, but league form has been very poor. For us to be 11th in the league under any circumstances, regardless of what has happened this season, is simply not acceptable. “We haven’t picked up points of late, but it still must be difficult for John McGlynn because there is the opportunity there of winning a trophy.
“Despite what happened yesterday, when he spoke to us he still said he’d be happier than anyone if we went on to have a good end to the season and win the League Cup.”