John McGlynn ready for Hearts challenge
IT has routinely been labelled a poisoned chalice by many observers in recent years. But, for John McGlynn, becoming manager of Hearts is his Holy Grail.
• John McGlynn pleased to be back at Hearts and ready for the challenge
• Tynecastle legend Edgaras Jankauskas poised to join as assistant manager with Gary Locke being retained
• McGlynn hoping to use experienced players like Grainger and Hamill to help younger players
There was no disguising the pride in the 50-year-old’s voice yesterday when he sat down with reporters for the first time since his appointment as Paulo Sergio’s successor earlier this week. McGlynn is the 10th man to hold the job under Vladimir Romanov’s unpredictable ownership of Hearts and he is well aware of the unique difficulties presented in satisfying the expectations of the Russian-born businessman. But, even though he has been charged with delivering a successful first-team squad on a lower budget than any of his nine predecessors, McGlynn has no apprehension about either the task in hand or his own job security.
Having spent a decade at the club previously, in a variety of roles from youth coach to caretaker manager, McGlynn is well versed in the vagaries of life at Hearts. His five-and-a-half year spell on limited resources as Raith Rovers manager, which included a Second Division title win and a Scottish Cup semi-final place, has also contributed to making him feel he is the right man at the right time for Hearts.
“I’m not coming into the job with my eyes closed,” said McGlynn. “I realise there has been a high turnover of managers here. But I love a challenge. There were many challenges at Raith Rovers and I ended up being the second-longest reigning manager there.
“I’m not really putting myself up to be the second-longest reigning Hearts manager, to be fair, but I’m certainly going to try to rise to the challenge. If you were scared of getting knocked down, you wouldn’t get out of your bed in the morning. If I was scared of getting the sack, I wouldn’t be here now. I have to put that to the side and focus on the job in hand. If anyone had told me at the start of my coaching career that I would end up as manager of Hearts, I would probably have laughed at them. But I have worked extremely hard to get to this position. I realise you only get one chance at it and that’s why I couldn’t turn it down. It’s a job I feel I’m ready for and I’m going to give it my best shot.
“If there was a script to be written for me, then this is the script. I’m not necessarily someone who believes that what’s for you won’t go by you. You have to influence what happens and how you go about it. But this is certainly the script I would have written for myself. I did my youth coaching, worked with the reserves, then was assistant manager and caretaker manager here. Then I went to Raith Rovers to cut my teeth as a manager for five-and-a-half years before coming back. So it’s a perfect situation for me entirely.”
McGlynn admirably managed to combine the pragmatism which will be required of him in more austere times at Tynecastle with the kind of romanticism the club’s support will continue to cling to as they crave more memorable occasions with their team in the aftermath of last season’s Scottish Cup triumph.
Although the new manager is hoping for a degree of understanding from the fans as he has to blood so many young players in his team, he is not prepared to turn his back on the ambitions he shares with them.
“The fans are not daft, they realise we have lost a few experienced players and that they might need to be patient,” he said. “I think most of them will be. But it doesn’t mean we can’t come flying out of the blocks in the new season, build momentum and confidence.
“There is no fear factor with younger players. They are also an unknown quantity to opponents, who won’t know much about them. They will make mistakes and we have to be realistic about that. However, the standards here cannot drop and the aspirations have to be to aim high.
“I have to think about the European nights we could possibly have out here at Tynecastle, if we could win a qualifier against the likes of Inter Milan and then maybe play Liverpool in the group stages. I mean, what an amazing thought that is.
“Motherwell had a great season last year. Stuart McCall and Kenny Black did a magnificent job to get them into the Champions League places. With the greatest of respect, we should be able to compete with them and the other clubs at the top end of the table. Scottish football is in a transitional period and everyone is having to cut back financially. Hearts are certainly doing that, which gives the young players an opportunity, but I’m still targeting high.
“It’s a great time to come in. People are still on a high after winning the Scottish Cup last season. The Hearts I know would always be targeting third place and a Scottish Cup run.
“Now that Rangers are not going to be there, I can understand people saying we should be going for second place. It’s not a formality by any manner of means, because Hearts are now going down a different route financially. But, at the same time, I stress we are not going to accept mediocrity. We want to be challenging at the top.”
McGlynn confirmed that Edgaras Jankauskas, the former Hearts striker who most recently was assistant manager at Lokomotiv Moscow, is poised to join his backroom staff, where first-team coach Gary Locke was retained following Sergio’s departure.
“It’s not a done deal yet but it would seem as if he is going to come in,” said McGlynn.
“He brings a wealth of experience. He has won the Champions League with Porto, he has worked with Jose Mourinho. He has been working in Russia.
“If he comes in he would give us another dimension. He has contacts. Hearts have always had quite a high foreign contingent in the past with players and coaches so it’s not totally new.
“It’s fair to say I don’t have a lot of money available to bring players in. The wage bill has been very high here. There is no better example than Rangers at the moment to tell us that you eventually need to cut your cloth accordingly. That’s where we find ourselves but we still feel we are short in certain areas of the squad and they need to be strengthened.
“John Murray, as director of football, works closely with [board director] Sergejus Fedotovas. Now I’m here to try and put the final piece in the jigsaw to try and bring some players in.
“We’ve still got Andy Webster, Marius Zaliukas, Jamie Hamill and Danny Grainger who are more experienced and will be invaluable to the younger players. John Sutton will come back into the frame as well. So it’s not as if I’m just going to throw all of the under-19 boys into the first team. But there is an opportunity for those lads and there has probably never been a better time to be a youth player at Hearts than now.”
John Robertson (2004-05)
George Burley (2005)
Graham Rix (2005-2006)
Valdas Ivanauskas (2006-2007)
Anatoly Korobochka (caretaker 2007-2008)
Stephen Frail (caretaker Jan-Jul 2008)
Csaba Laszlo (2008-2010)
Jim Jefferies (2010-2011)
Paulo Sergio (2011-2012)
John McGlynn (2012- )
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