Following the redundancies at the club last Thursday the reality has been far tougher to absorb.
“Don’t get me wrong the Pro Licence is fantastic,” the Hearts manager says. “They try and cover everything you could possibly come across as a manager. But, certainly, anything I learned on that would not have come close to what happened on Thursday.”
Locke could be forgiven for some semblance of bitterness, after all he has landed his dream job in the midst of a nightmare. He also spent his close season meeting with agents and players, wheeling and dealing with the aim of bolstering a greatly depleted playing squad. But with the news that the club had plunged into administration, promises as well as hearts were broken.
Tears were shed as 14 workers paid the price for the club’s financial tumult, but he says now is not the time for recriminations. Instead anyone who cares about the club’s survival needs to “stand shoulder to shoulder” to safeguard the future.
“I was like every other manager, when you get to the summer, you look to try and rebuild and bring in better players,” says Locke. “That’s exactly what I tried to do. All the hours I’ve spent have been a waste of time but I have a bigger battle ahead and that is make sure this club survives.
“We’re in administration now and we have new people running the club. We have to look forward if we can. If the fans back us, and I’m 100 per cent convinced they will, we can get out the mess we’re in and hopefully look forward again.”
Underlining the importance of the next couple of weeks, he believes that now that the Lithuanian board have been removed and the severity of the situation has been rammed home, fans will rally. Some 800 of the 3,000-season ticket target had been sold by last night, although progress was hindered when Hearts were forced to suspend credit card sales and ask for cash or cheque payments only. Locke, however, anticipates the target can be met – and even exceeded. He knows how Hearts fans are feeling because he is one of them.
“No matter what happens in my career, no matter where I am, if I have got a different job or whatever, I will follow Hearts,” he says, clearly unable to contemplate that there could be a future without them.