Craig Gordon sure that Paul Hartley can step up from Alloa to Hearts
PAUL Hartley would be perfectly capable of making the hump from Alloa to become the new Hearts manager, according to his old team-mate Craig Gordon.
Hartley won the Third Division title with Alloa last seaon, his first as a manager. Although he has already been linked with the vacancy at Tynecastle, his lack of experience at a higher level has been cited as a reason why he should not get the job. Gordon, however, suggested that former midfielder Hartley could emulate Craig Levein and prove himself capable of instantly bridging the gap between the lower divisions and the SPL.
“I don’t think it’s too big a jump,” the goalkeeper said. “Craig Levein did something similar when he got Cowdenbeath promoted into the Second Division and then got the Hearts job from there. So I think it’s possible.
“The success [Hartley] has had at his level will have built his confidence. It was always going to be difficult going from playing to management, but he now knows he can do it. He seems to have settled into it very quickly and given the chance, he could probably do it at a higher level as well.”
Gordon, Hartley and current Falkirk manager Steven Pressley formed the so-called Riccarton Three when, as Hearts players, they protested against some of the management methods used by club owner Vladimir Romanov. That very public demonstration of their feelings did not go down well with Romanov, but Gordon suggested it was unlikely to deter the businessman from appointing Hartley now, almost six years on.
“I don’t think it would stop him [Romanov]. That’s in the past now. I don’t think it ended too badly for myself and Paul.The club got good money for both of us and we parted on reasonable terms. I don’t think there would be any problem in either of them going back.
“Hopefully, they would get the time to build a new, young squad. Hearts have let a few players go and it would be nice to think one of the ex-players would get the chance to go back in there and do that. It’s going to be a difficult job, and the fans are going to have to be patient and give them time to build a new squad and bring a few of the younger players through to be first-team regulars.”
Hartley left Hearts on better terms with Romanov than Pressley did, as the businessman believed the midfielder had been more open about his dream of playing for Celtic. But Gordon implied that Pressley, having shown from early in his career that he was managerial material, had already acquired some relevant experience at Falkirk.
“He was always an ideal candidate to go into management and has had some good success bringing in young players, which the job at Hearts may entail, and improving them as players then selling them on. He has done a very good job in his short time at Falkirk.”
Gordon, who was speaking at a press conference at Hampden to announce Weatherseal as “the official home improvement partner” of the SPL, is currently a free agent following his release by Sunderland. His time on Wearside was disrupted by injury, but, still only 29, he is confident he remains capable of playing at the top for some time to come.
“There’s been a little bit of contact from a few clubs, although nothing concrete as yet,” he explained. “With the [transfer] window just opening and everything just about to start happening, the next few weeks should be a bit busier.
“We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks. There’s a few managers getting new jobs and the transfer window is open, so I’ll take stock of what offers come in over the next few weeks and see what’s the best for me after that.
“I still feel I can play at the highest level, and if I can get an extended run of games now my knee’s back to what it should be, then I’ll feel as though I can show everybody what I can do again. It’s been a long time since I had an extended run of games. It has been difficult and there’s a bit of anger within myself to come back and show all over again what I can do.
“I hope my track record is still good enough. I know the injury situation is something a lot of people will take into account, [but] if I was to sign with somebody I would do a full medical so that would be taken care of – there would be no need for a leap of faith. I would do all the necessary scans to prove I can get back out and play.
“I’m open-minded to anything that’s on the table from any club in any country. I’ll take stock of what’s there, look at my options and decide what’s the best one after that.
“Financially, there are bigger contracts to be had in the English Premier League. It’s a good level of football and I have enjoyed my time playing in the EPL. But we have to wait and see where the offers come in from and where I can go from here.”
Gordon has already been linked with Celtic, but added that there had as yet been no contact. “I’ve not heard from them, but it’s early days. The window is just opening now and we’ll see what happens over the next couple of weeks.”
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