Austin MacPhee does not believe Hearts’ Betfred Cup semi-final defeat against Rangers has altered his prospects of becoming manager of the Gorgie club on a permanent basis.
Named as interim manager following Craig Levein’s sacking on Thursday, MacPhee will meet with Hearts owner Ann Budge on Monday morning but fully expects to remain in charge for Saturday’s crucial bottom of the table Premiership fixture against St Mirren at Tynecastle.
Hearts have indicated they will not rush the recruitment process for Levein’s successor with MacPhee among the candidates. The comprehensive nature of their 3-0 loss to Rangers at Hampden seemed to do little to enhance his claims for the job but the 40-year-old insists it has no bearing on his future.
“Everyone is disappointed we lost the semi-final but it doesn’t change anything,” said MacPhee.
“The players, myself and the staff must focus on being as well prepared as possible on Saturday against St Mirren to take three points as we haven’t won at Tynecastle in a while. It’s very important to win before the international break.
“I'll meet with Ann tomorrow morning, which was scheduled anyway. We'll obviously talk about the structure in the next week but I would imagine I’ll be in charge against St Mirren.”
MacPhee defended his decision to leave Uche Ikpeazu out of his starting line-up, a selection which even surprised Rangers manager Steven Gerrard whose team had struggled to cope with the big striker in the league match between the sides two weeks earlier.
Steven MacLean was picked to lead the line instead but MacPhee was prompted to replace him with Ikpeazu before half-time as the former St Johnstone man was close to receiving a second yellow card.
“Steven played a very important role in that system in the Scottish Cup Final against Celtic last season,” said MacPhee.
“Steven understands that role.. But today we didn't quite get high enough up the pitch. Rangers very quickly overloaded on the sides of the pitch which meant Craig Wighton had to be a bit deeper and we couldn't really get out.
“The plan was that when Steven was on the pitch, we kept the game tight in the early stages then we introduced players who can affect the game more in the attacking end.
“We knew that down the stretch it's difficult for Uche at times with the amount of work he would have to do.
I'd planned to introduce Uche at half-time anyway and Steven just had to come off a couple of minutes before that. We were only one minute away from getting to half-time when Rangers got their first goal.”