For almost any other the club the close season is a relatively quite period. The players take a well-earned break until they all report back for pre-season training, while the supporters renew season tickets and speculate what new signings, if any, will arrive for the new season. But this is Hearts.
Still no new manager, an increasingly worrying list of supposed knock backs; one player AWOL, another leaving due to œdiet policemen, constant speculation linking the captain away from the club, and the Caretaker Manager being sent on gardening leave. To top it all off, instead of speculating about transfer targets and a possible starting eleven for next season, Hearts supporters are debating Romanov’s true motives, organising protests and worrying if their team will even be able to field a decent starting eleven next season.
When it was announced on January 1st that we were searching for a œBritish style manager I remember Hearts fans instantly beginning to speculate whether this was true or if we had, again, been lied to again to keep us quite during awful times on the park. Hearts lay tenth in the league at the time. Names like Davies, Levein and Jefferies were mentioned but there was no real activity, for months.
Towards the end of the season, it became apparent that Mark McGhee was Romanov’s preferred choice, but when he rejected the club were caught out without a plan B. The Motherwell chairman John Boyle allegedly called McGhee and persuaded him not to board his flight to Vilnius to meet the Hearts owner. I am sure it wouldn’t be very difficult to put together an argument, coupled with and increased salary to persuade a manager not to go to Hearts.
Since then an endless list of names have been mentioned in connection with the vacancy, a few have been interview and roughly the same amount have turned the offer down. Vladimir Weiss, not exactly œBritish style, decided instead to become the boss of his national side. While Icelander, with English lower league experience, Gudjon Thordarson has stated that he would need full control over transfers and team selection. Something Romanov does not want to promise.
So why would Jacques Santini, who’s name was put forward as a possible candidate and who quit Tottenham after four months in charge due to a poor working relationship with someone above, want to go anywhere near this job?
A few other Eastern European coaches have been mentioned but if Romanov decides to appoint anyone with anything to do with FBK Kaunas or MTZ Ripo, then the protests being discussed on certain forums will certainly gain some weight. But how effective would a protest be?
The last time Hearts supporters launched a protest, the Save Our Hearts Campaign, the end result was, ironically, Romanov. Now though Romanov rarely appears in Edinburgh and has had very little communication with the media or Hearts supporters. Also, he recently parted company with his Scottish spokesman Charlie Mann. Would a campaign group really expect supporters to travel in numbers to protest in Lithuania?
Some Hearts fans, a minority judging by what I have read and heard recently, still hold out in the hope that a manager will be appointed will full control, a few signings will be made and that Hearts will then begin to show some improvement.
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