HEARTS are losing player development manager Darren Murray after he accepted an offer to join Steven Pressley’s coaching staff at Coventry City.
In a double blow to the Edinburgh club, they will not receive any compensation from Coventry as Murray was only working on a standard employee’s contract.
The 43-year-old has handed in his resignation and will take up the post of under-18s coach at the League One club. He will also work closely with the under-21 side and with Pressley, a former Tynecastle captain, at first-team level.
Murray, who joined the Hearts coaching staff in 1999, is keen to explore new horizons in his coaching career. His work within the Riccarton youth academy - he was in charge of Hearts’ under-20 team and also helped coach the senior squad - has seen his reputation spread to England after he helped streams of players reach first-team level. He will now head to Coventry hoping to help nurture a new generation of talent in the Midlands.
His departure is a major blow to Hearts given he helped develop so many youngsters who are now major components of Gary Locke’s first-team squad.
Players including Callum Paterson, Jason Holt, Jamie Walker, Dylan McGowan and Brad McKay were brought through by Murray in the Riccarton youth team. They are now fully established first-team players following the onset of administration.
Like Hearts, Coventry’s future remains uncertain due to a rent dispute with the owners of their stadium which saw one of their subsidiary companies lapse into administration. They are currently playing home matches at Sixfields Stadium in Northampton.
Speaking about the move, Murray told the Hearts website: “Going to Coventry City is a great opportunity for me and England is the next step in terms of my development, so it’s exciting times.
“I’d like to thank Hearts and I’m going on good terms. This place has been a massive part of my life and my development. I’ve got to thank John McGlynn for bringing me into the club back in 1999 and especially John Murray who has let me by myself, do things my way and develop as much as I can. Special mention too to Gary Locke and I really hope he tastes success with this group of talented young players.
“The club has been particularly good to me during some difficult times with family illness. It’s a big wrench to leave this football club and an even bigger wrench to, initially, leave my family up here. So it’s not a decision that I took lightly.
“The players have been fantastic and have bought into my philosophy and without that then I might not have made it as far along as I have. Hopefully the boys can push on and stay up this season as the talent is definitely there. Hearts will always be the first result I look for.”
A Hearts spokesperson said: “We wish Darren all the very best in this next chapter of his career. He has become an integral part of this football club and we will always be grateful for his development of many of the young stars who currently grace the first team, but we felt that we could not stand in his way when this opportunity was afforded to him.”
Steve Waggott, development director at Coventry City, welcomed Murray to the Midlands. He said: “This really is a pivotal role within the club and we are delighted to have Darren on board. The big picture for us is the continuity and consistency of approach and it’s vitally important that what Steven Pressley does with the first team cascades down to our younger players. In Darren we’re getting someone with a great deal of experience and knowledge in how to achieve that.”
Coventry’s academy manager, Gregor Rioch, added: “I look forward to welcoming Darren to club. We have some exciting youngsters here who have managed to make that breakthrough into the first team and I look forward to working with Darren in bringing through the next generation.”