JOHN MCGLYNN reckons that even Roy of the Rovers couldn’t have had a better script written for him.
The 50-year-old was named new Hearts manager earlier this week, being confirmed as the replacement for Paulo Sergio a full 16 years after first joining the club as a part-time youth coach.
His career has come full circle since the day Jim Jefferies brought him to Tynecastle in 1996 and a delighted McGlynn admits that if anyone had told him all those years ago that he would be sitting in the hotseat himself, he would have laughed in their faces.
But, now that he is in place and an SPL manager in his own right, he is more than ready to let the serious work begin.
McGlynn said: “It’s a very proud day for me. If anyone had said to me when I was just starting out on my career that I would end up being the manager of Hearts, I would probably have laughed at them, to be fair. But I have worked extremely hard to get to this position and it’s a job that I realise you might only get one chance at and you can’t afford to turn it down.
“It’s a job I feel that I am ready for and I am going to give it my best shot.
“If there was a script to be written then this is it.
“I am not necessarily the type of person who thinks that what is for you won’t go by you, I think you have got to influence things yourself. But it has turned out that way for me and I couldn’t have written it better myself.
“I have worked with the reserves, I have coached, been assistant manager and caretaker manager and then been away cutting my teeth as a manager for five-and-a-half years before coming back.”
However, McGlynn admits that the club couldn’t be any more different from the one that he left.
At that time the Gorgie outfit could call on a host of top names, from Rudi Skacel and Edgaras Jankauskas and Roman Bednar to Takis Fyssas.
But, with almost every club in the country having to cut their cloth to suit because of the current financial climate, McGlynn and the other 11 top-flight managers are likely to have to turn to youth more often than not.
However, even with those constraints in place, McGlynn insisted that there was never a moment when he considered rejecting his dream post.
He has made no secret of his affection for the Gorgie men and continued: “I didn’t really have to hesitate because I knew the history of the club and, living locally, I know what else has been going on.
“Obviously I worked here previously for a long time and over the past five-and-a-half years or so I have kept close tabs on Hearts. I had a few of the younger Hearts players at Raith Rovers over the last few years as well, so I have always kept that connection.
“Obviously it is different now. At the time when I left, George Burley had just come into the club and we had players like Edgaras Jankauskas, who had just won the Champions League with Porto and we brought in Rudi Skacel, we brought in Roman Bednar, Michael Pospisil and Takis Fyssas, who had just won the European Championships with Greece. We also had the backbone of the Scotland team with Craig Gordon, Andy Webster, Steven Pressley and Paul Hartley.
“At this moment in time it is different because there are players who have done well for Hearts who are no longer going to be around. We will be going down a different route – and we have to be realistic – where we are bringing through young players.”
With Rangers out of the SPL next season, this could prove to be one of the most crucial season that the Tynecastle side will ever have faced and McGlynn finds himself in charge of, arguably, the second biggest team in the country right now.
Hearts finished in second behind Celtic in 2006, splitting the Old Firm and claiming a place in the Champions League qualifiers as a result. And, while McGlynn is refusing to get carried away with what may lie ahead, he admits that an opportunity has certainly presented itself to repeat that feat if luck is on their side.
“With younger players, there is no fear factor there and they are also an unknown quantity because their opponents won’t know anything about them.
“But at the same time, they will make mistakes and we have to remember that. Our aspirations have to be to aim high – and we should be able to compete. Motherwell had a great season last season, Stuart McCall and Kenny Black did a magnificent job but we should be able to compete with them.
“Dundee United, Aberdeen – everyone is having to cut back. Scottish football is having to cut back and that will mean openings for younger players.”
McGlynn admitted that, even though he has plans for the transfer market, he won’t have vast sums of money with which to make his moves.
“It would be fair to say that,” he conceded when quizzed on the reduced budget that will be made available to him.
“The wage has probably been very, very high, and there is no greater example of that right now than Rangers.
“You have got to cut your cloth accordingly but if you look at our squad we probably are a bit short in certain areas.
“John Murray is the Director of Football and he has been working very closely with Sergei Fedotovas and then I have come in and hopefully we can now put the final pieces of the jigsaw together to bring some players in.”
Expectations will no doubt be elevated following the Scottish Cup success at the end of the last campaign.
While cautioning that the younger players who will pepper their squad in the coming months will need time to find their feet, McGlynn knows that almost every single other team in the Division will have to go down the same path.
But he thinks that it is premature to start talking about any aspirations the Jambos fans will no doubt have about pushing Celtic at the top of the table in the 2012/13 campaign: “I think it is maybe getting a wee bit carried away but you never know in football. If we give these young players their place, they grasp it and we work exceptionally hard then, you never know.
“Maybe Celtic will get complacent. I think that we shouldn’t just take it for granted because Hearts were arguably the third biggest team in Scotland that they are now the second biggest team and therefore it is a formality.
“You have to achieve things and we need to still raise the bar and push on.”