VLADIMIR ROMANOV’S process for appointing a new manager intrigues virtually everyone. Exactly what credentials does Hearts’ majority shareholder seek in a coach, and how are they identified? One thing is guaranteed, he is not short on options.
Romanov and his associates are currently undertaking this very task across in Lithuania as they seek to replace Paulo Sergio. CVs from all corners of the globe have arrived or been forwarded from managers who recognise Hearts as a club with potential for success. The applications are filtered before Romanov gets down to talking and then picks the new incumbent himself.
He has plenty experience of the process. After all, he has done it before a few times. Yet this time, with financial prudence a key factor, the appointment is perhaps more important than ever. Romanov will have his colleagues and contacts scouring for possible candidates and will doubtless have a few of his own worth pondering.
Sergejus Fedotovas, Romanov’s right-hand man and a Tynecastle director, will offer his contribution, as will Hearts’ managing director David Southern. But ultimately, one man will make the appointment. Those who have been involved in the process know precisely what he will look for.
“It’s somebody who buys into the philosophy of how the club is being run. That’s everything from the financial side to the targets they want to set,” explained Charlie Mann, Romanov’s former spokesperson. “Somebody who can help in a difficult situation and stabilise the club. There have been guys who are Hearts men and others, like Csaba Laszlo, who wouldn’t have known much about Scottish football but still made an impression. That was because of the quality of players at the club.
“Sergey will be heavily involved, as will David I suspect. They will come up with a shortlist and Vlad will probably talk to a number of people on it. He needs to be certain that the right level of communication is there, the right level of ambition is there, and the right level of buying into Hearts’ philosophies.”
Being Hearts manager carries a high price if you don’t succeed. But if you do, the adulation can often drown anything that has gone before. Sergio is back in Portugal still overwhelmed by the events of May 19 and the hero-worship accorded him by Hearts fans. Working at Tynecastle can be extremely rewarding if you get it right.
“The way it worked when I was there was that Romanov asked senior people within the club – like, Phil Anderton, Campbell Ogilvie, David Southern or even myself – who might fit the role and the circumstances,” continued Mann.
“There is a major change now because the way ahead for Hearts is living within their means. They want to bring through younger players and cut the wage bill across the whole club.
“Romanov will sit down with people inside the club and listen to the names put forward. He also has other sources of information in Europe, who have come up with names like Csaba Laszlo, Paulo Sergio and others.
“The net is cast far and wide. Some people may have concerns about that because some of the names that come up aren’t always names known in this country. That’s part of what people need to get their heads around.
“Romanov has a much wider area of operation now than ever. Hearts, over the last few years, have been up there challenging and won trophies.
“Through Romanov’s funding and assistance, they’ve managed to challenge higher up the league.”
Even though Hearts’ focus is now on promoting young players from their academy, Mann believes there will still be plenty managers willing to drive such a project.
“I would still say Hearts is a more attractive job than it’s been for some time. It’s always an attractive job. Since Romanov has been involved, the club’s profile is higher than it’s been for a long time. I think people see it as a job where they can make an impression and make a name for themselves.
“A lot of managers would really relate to the challenge of bringing younger players through, getting the most from the budget and still challenging. Remember, with the situation at Rangers, next season is an opportunity for non-Old Firm clubs to be up challenging. That’s a real attraction to people.
“They will be getting a lot of approaches from people for the job.
“We’ve had World Cup winners like Lothar Matthaus and Ossie Ardiles showing interest in managing Hearts. The club is very much on the map and people see it as capable of success. A lot of people will rise to the challenge.
“People can understand Paulo Sergio’s reasons for going in terms of the finances. But you can’t have a go at Hearts for cutting their cloth accordingly. Previously, people had a go because they were spending too much.
“It’s a very different world that everybody is operating in now and Hearts need to get this appointment right.”