Hearts manager Craig Levein has admitted he would be disappointed to lose assistant coach Austin MacPhee, but confirmed the club will not block any potential move to Indian side FC Pune City.
MacPhee is on a shortlist for Pune’s vacant managerial job and they have approached Hearts for permission to speak to him, which has been granted. Former Rangers manager Paul Le Guen is also under consideration for a position which carries an extremely lucrative salary package.
“They made contact with Ann Budge on Monday,” Levein said in reference to Pune City. “When anybody gets an opportunity to better themselves, we won’t stand in their way. I’d be disappointed to lose Austin but he’s an ambitious man. We have given the club in India permission to speak to him so we’ll see what happens.”
MacPhee will speak to Pune City officials in the coming days but admitted he is uncertain about where his future lies. “This has come out of the blue,” he said. “I am relaxed about it but I think you are better having a conversation. It’s an exciting project at Hearts, I feel we will be good this season. So there is a lot to think about.”
MacPhee, 38, is interested in becoming a manager in his own right one day, although he is not actively seeking a way out of Tynecastle.
He recently spent time in India working in tandem with their national association and FIFA and Pune City representatives noted his work. They now want to speak to him about stepping into his first management role.
MacPhee joined Hearts as assistant to head coach Ian Cathro in December 2016. He remained in place when Cathro was replaced by Levein last August and also works as an assistant coach to Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill.
Meanwhile, Hearts lost 1-0 to Queen of the South last night in a pre-season friendly at Palmerston Park. Michael Smith’s own goal separated the sides in a game where the visitors saw plenty of the ball but lacked a cutting edge.
“There was a lot of effort, we retained possession of the ball but our final pass and finishing was poor,” said Levein after his team’s first pre-season defeat in their fourth friendly.
“I thought we controlled match, particularly for long spells in the second half. I thought our back three were pretty comfortable, but we didn’t look up to speed in creative areas.
“We still have two or three boys to come back. Sometimes it’s good to get a wee bloody nose just to keep everybody’s feet on the ground.”