Craig Levein '˜ideal man' for Ann Budge

Ann Budge has moved to quell disquiet among Hearts supporters by describing Craig Levein as the ideal appointment as first-team manager.

Ann Budge says Craig Levein was the ideal candidate for the manager's job. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Ann Budge says Craig Levein was the ideal candidate for the manager's job. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The club’s near month-long hunt for Ian Cathro’s successor ended yesterday when the current director of football was confirmed in the role.

Levein will retain the responsibilities of director of football, a position he has held for the last three years, as well as taking
charge of first-team affairs. Hearts owner Budge conceded that Levein’s new role meant making “minor changes” to the coaching and management structure at the club.

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She also admitted that despite intensive efforts to identify an experienced replacement for Cathro the board realised the ideal candidate was at the club all along.

Dougie Freedman, Steven Pressley and Billy Davies were among those on the shortlist, as was former England manager Steve McClaren.

“The candidates we interviewed were, without exception, first-class,” said Budge. “However, as the interview process progressed, it became clear to the board that the ideal candidate was already with us.

“Not only does Craig satisfy all of our requirements, in terms of experience and personal attributes, he also offers continuity and stability.”

Budge released a statement on the club’s official website yesterday afternoon after mounting speculation that Levein was returning to management. He replaces Jon Daly, interim head coach for Hearts’ first four league games, all played away due to the delayed construction of the new main stand at Tynecastle.

Hearts play their next league match against Aberdeen at BT Murrayfield and are not due to return to Tynecastle until November.

Daly will now continue coaching at first-team level, with Andy Kirk succeeding him as under-20s coach.

Liam Fox will also work with the first team, along with goalkeeping coach Paul Gallacher. It is understood Austin MacPhee will continue as assistant manager, a role he has filled since joining Cathro
at Hearts in December. But Levein’s return to the dugout after previously ruling out such a move has sparked most debate.

Budge wryly noted he will “for the avoidance of doubt” pick the team, after long-running complaints that it was Levein, and not Cathro and before him Robbie Neilson, who selected the players.

Levein last took charge of a Hearts game in a 1-1 draw against Dundee United at Tannadice in October 2004 before leaving for Leicester City. He has not tasted club management since leaving Dundee United in 2009 for an ill-starred period in charge of Scotland.