HEARTS were today making one final push to keep manager Paulo Sergio for next season as Tynecastle directors prepared to press the Portuguese for a final answer on a new contract.
It is unlikely Sergio will agree to stay unless the terms offered are increased, which would mean Hearts looking for their tenth manager in seven years of Vladimir Romanov’s stewardship. Budget constraints mean Sergio would have to agree to less money than he earned last season in order to remain Hearts manager. So far, he has been unwilling to make that sacrifice and will be asked for a final decision on the matter today. Hearts have until June 15 to formally invoke a clause in Sergio’s contract entitling them to retain his services for another 12 months, provided terms can be agreed. However, the club hierarchy are keen to have a manager in place as soon as possible with pre-season training due to start early next month.
Should Sergio refuse the contract offered to him, Hearts are ready to turn their attentions elsewhere. The Evening News has learned that senior officials at the Edinburgh club already have a back-up list drawn up of potential candidates to replace Sergio, with another Portuguese coach Jose Couceiro featuring prominently. Also on the list is title-winning Alloa manager Paul Hartley, a Scottish Cup winner as a player with Hearts in 2006.