Gary Locke today spoke of his desire to remain at Hearts and get the chance to manage the team without restrictions next season.
He wants to stay in place after Ann Budge completes her takeover and try to guide the club back to the Premiership without the hindrance of a points penalty or player registration embargo.
Hearts’ relegation to the Championship is looming and Locke is out of contract at the end of the season. Budge has yet to declare her plans but has already consulted the former Hearts and Scotland manager Craig Levein on football-related issues, sparking talk that he could return to Tynecastle once Budge takes control.
Locke stressed that the long-term prospects of the club are of far more importance than any individual as Hearts try to exit administration. He also explained why he wants to stay as manager after 12 months in the job. He is eager to prove his worth after being hindered this season by a deduction of 15 points, a ban on signing new players and a squad predominantly made up of under-21s.
“Obviously you would like to get the opportunity to manage the club as any normal manager can,” he told the Evening News. “I’ve tried my best this season and there’s no doubt it’s been difficult at times. I think the players have shown they’re giving everything and, as a manager, that’s all you can ask.
“There have been a lot of things that have been frustrating, like not being able to strengthen the team. At the start of the season, we knew the situation we were in but you’re thinking of getting to January and, if we’re still in with a shout, we can maybe strengthen the team.
“That didn’t happen but the most important thing is the survival of the club, not what happens to Gary Locke. It would be great to be the manager but it’s not about me. It’s just about the club surviving. My situation will take care of itself. The most important thing from my point of view is that the club is here. Hopefully the next month will go a long way towards that happening.”
Asked if he feels unfairly judged in view of the restrictions he has had to work under this year, Locke added: “That’s for other people to decide. Most managers are judged on who they sign and the kind of players they bring to the club. I’ve never had the opportunity to do that. Unfortunately, that’s just where the club is at the moment.
“There are games we should have won and another couple we should have done better in. Over the course of the season, that’s the type of performances you’re going to get with such a young squad.”