CRAIG GORDON today endorsed Paul Hartley as a strong candidate for the manager’s job at Hearts, pointing to the success enjoyed by his former team-mate at Alloa Athletic in his first year in charge.
Hartley’s name is one of many on Hearts’ shortlist of people who could replace Paulo Sergio and Gordon believes he would be well suited to the role. Hartley guided the Clackmannanshire club to the Third Division title just 12 months after being appointed in his first managerial position.
Gordon stressed that moving from the Third Division to the Premier League would not faze Hartley should Hearts make an approach for their former midfielder. “I don’t think it’s too big a jump,” said the Scotland goalkeeper. “Craig Levein did something similar when he got Cowdenbeath promoted into the Second Division and then got the Hearts job from there. So I think it’s possible.
“The success he (Hartley) has had at his level will have built his confidence. It was always going to be difficult going from playing to management, but he now knows he can do it. He seems to have settled into it very quickly and given the chance, he could probably do it at a higher level as well.”
Both Gordon and Hartley, along with Steven Pressley, spoke out against Hearts’ majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov in October 2006 in the infamous “Riccarton Three” incident. Pressley has also been linked with the vacancy at Tynecastle and Gordon does not believe Romanov would hold any grudges.
“I don’t think it would stop him [Romanov]. That’s in the past now. I don’t think it ended too badly for myself and Paul. The club got good money for both of us and we parted on reasonable terms. I don’t think there would be any problem in either of them going back.
“Hopefully, they would get the time to build a new, young squad. Hearts have let a few players go and it would be nice to think one of the ex-players would get the chance to go back in there and do that. It’s going to be a difficult job, and the fans are going to have to be patient and give them time to build a new squad.”
The Edinburgh club have confirmed they will not make any approach to Sergio’s compatriot Jose Couceiro, who previously worked under Vladimir Romanov at FBK Kaunas.
Gordon has been offered the chance to return to Riccarton for pre-season training as Hearts extend the arm of friendship to their former keeper, who is currently without a club. Tynecastle officials will allow Gordon to train with them should he remain unemployed by the start of next month, and the 29-year-old admitted today that he would be keen to exercise that option.
Gordon left Sunderland following the expiry of his contract last month.
nHEARTS legend Dave Mackay is currently in hospital in Nottingham recovering from a chest infection. He was admitted on Saturday.
• Gordon was speaking at the announcement of Weatherseal as the SPL’s official home improvement partner. The new partnership will bring an undisclosed six-figure sum into Scottish football as agreed with all 12 SPL clubs.