CARETAKER boss John McGlynn today warned his Hearts players they cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves in the wake of George Burley's shock exit.
The first-team squad reported for training yesterday for the first time since the weekend's dramatic chain of events as the players attempted to shake off the dismay which had enveloped Tynecastle after Burley's (pictured) unexpected departure. Chief executive Phil Anderton had a meeting with McGlynn and the rest of the backroom team before briefing the players at the club's Riccarton academy, the squad having been congratulated on their professional approach to Saturday's clash with Dunfermline.
Goals from Rudi Skacel and Michal Pospisil dumped the struggling Fifers and saw the Gorgie outfit complete the opening quarter of the campaign with a remarkable unbeaten record. They will look to stretch that sequence to 12 matches with tomorrow's visit of Kilmarnock, although McGlynn has warned the league leaders they'll have to maintain the standards set during Burley's brief tenure if they are to prove themselves genuine championship challengers.
"Phil Anderton came in yesterday morning to talk to the players about everything that had happened," said the caretaker boss. "It's still in the back of their minds as it was such a massive thing to happen but they have reacted well and it will be business as usual as far as possible for us this week.
"It's a case of getting back to training and preparing for games as we would normally do.
"Yesterday was all about switching back on to being a football player and it's a great job they have. In any walk of life things crop up, but for us when we got out there it was pretty much forgotten about. The situation is not going to go away so we have to look forward and be positive with our approach to tomorrow's game.
"There is a great desire to continue this run for as long as we can but one thing's for sure, we can't feel sorry for ourselves. Do that and we'll get a kick up the backside."
McGlynn is no stranger to such situations having played the caretaker role after the departures of both Craig Levein and John Robertson.
He will be assisted in the coaching duties by former FBK Kaunas boss Valdas Ivanauskas, although the pair are not seeking to change much in the way of preparations.
"We are not going to make changes for change's sake," said McGlynn. "We can do a lot of similar things to what George was doing as obviously they were right.
"I'm not George Burley and won't try to be George Burley but there are certain things which he did which were good practice for anyone to do.
"These situations are never easy and you normally only ever get them because people have lost their jobs.
"Craig Levein had been doing particularly well and had been linked with a number of jobs when he left during our UEFA Cup campaign, while John Robertson's situation was also subject to a lot of speculation which didn't help anyone at the time.
"That was late in the season and didn't have a big effect on the team but this is a quite different situation. We are top of the league, things are going very well and people can't really understand how we find ourselves in this position. The players are a bit more down about this happening as they have been doing a very good job.
"I would rather be in this position under different circumstances but to be caretaker manager of Hearts with the team at the top of the league is a massive challenge and I have to try to keep the team on course.
"I won't be able to do that on my own and will need the backing of everyone at the club from Valdas Ivanauskas, who will be assisting me, fitness coach Tom Ritchie, Stevie Frail, John Murray, kit men Gordon Paterson and Norrie Gray.
"I'll obviously need the players as well and without their backing it won't work.
"I'm an honest guy and will do the best I possibly can to see us through this period."
McGlynn's next challenge is to galvanise his players into action against Kilmarnock, tomorrow's clash presenting him with the chance to pit his managerial wits against the man who brought him to Tynecastle in the first place. "We take on our former manager tomorrow night and Jim Jefferies loves facing Hearts," smiled McGlynn.
"It will be nice to see Jim and Billy Brown as they were the people who brought me to Tynecastle. I owe them a lot as I learned plenty from them, as I did Craig, John and George.
"Kilmarnock did well against Celtic at Rugby Park on Sunday even though they lost the match and they'll be coming here with confidence.
"But our players have done a terrific job this season and are determined to keep things going for as long as possible. They focused well on their job on Saturday and I'm confident they'll do the same tomorrow night."
McGlynn was taken aback by the timing of Burley's departure, if not the actual split with Vladimir Romanov, but is confident he won't be lost to football for any length of time.
He said: "We realised things weren't quite clicking, that they weren't hitting it off but we didn't realise it was to this extreme that it would happen on the day of a match.
"We were all sad to see him go as he was a very likeable guy, a great coach who was doing a very good job. If we don't win the title fans may look back and say 'what if?' but I don't think George Burley will be out of a job for too long.
"He has enhanced his reputation with the job he did at Hearts and I think he'll get another big job very quickly.
"Life will go on for George Burley but we now have to ensure Heart of Midlothian Football Club continues as well."