GEORGE FOULKES today admitted his sadness at Paulo Sergio’s departure – but insisted that Hearts were right not to break the bank to keep him.
Having seen the financial difficulties Rangers have faced in recent months after living beyond their means to bring in top quality players, Foulkes insisted that Hearts have been sensible. He said: “It is sad that he is going but, I think, fairly predictable. He was made an offer, as much as the club could afford under the current circumstances, and I think that the club is right not to pay salaries that are excessive. All clubs have to do that now or get into the same difficulties as Rangers.
“It obviously wasn’t enough for Paulo and he leaves with his head held high and with a very good reputation. He will still be a hero of the fans but we now have to look around for a new manager who we can get for a lower salary than Sergio.”
Sergio’s exit comes less than three weeks after the Scottish Cup win over Hibs at Hampden and Foulkes believes that Sergio will forever be remembered by the Hearts fans for that day.
He continued: “It has been wonderful to have him and he has gone out on a high. To leave the club having won the Scottish Cup means that he will always be one of the club’s legends. People will remember him for way he conducted himself. He always showed great integrity and great skill and he was liked by both the players and the supporters. Some of the previous departures have been unfortunate but this one is sad and I wish him all the best.”
Foulkes believes Hearts will now look around for a younger replacement, possibly from Scotland, although he acknowledged that owner Vladimir Romanov is just as likely to pull someone from the European market out of the bag: “I think Hearts will look around for a younger Scottish manager first and there are a number who could be put in the frame.
“Given Vladimir Romanov’s record, and I’m not saying this in a critical way, he will also put some unexpected names in the frame, ones that we can’t predict because of his knowledge of the European game. I suspect that, while they have been negotiating, they have been looking around. Gary Locke could have a part to play, I am a great fan of him, he was a good servant and is respected by players and fans. I certainly hope to see him becoming more involved.”