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Hearts got off to a flying start in Romanov’s first full season as majority shareholder at Tynecastle, winning their first eight games in all competitions under manager George Burley and going top of the SPL.
However, a deteriorating relationship between Romanov and Burley saw the latter leave the club after just a few months in charge.
There was intense speculation over who the successor would be, with big names like Bobby Robson linked with the job. It would eventually go to former England international Graham Rix, but before that hiring, Hartley was asked for his opinion on the matter.
He told Simon Ferry on Open Goal: “It was after George left. I got summoned to a hotel in Edinburgh on a Thursday night. It was through one of his Lithuanian colleagues, might have even been his son [Roman Romanov], who we used to call Rodney Trotter.
“He says, ‘my dad wants to see you tonight’. I was actually scared.
“I get picked up and go to this hotel restaurant. Romanov starts saying, ‘who do you think the new manager should be?’ I’m like surely that’s your choice, I’m only a player. I dunno who the new manager should be. It’s not up to me.
“But I started picking names out because I’d seen them in the paper. I’m saying [Gianluca] Vialli would be a good one, Kevin Keegan, all these names.
“The owner of a club asking a player who he thinks the manager should be? I said ‘that’s your choice, Mr Romanov’.”