Hearts' management structure could change after their European exit against PAOK Salonika

Decision on coaching team will be down to the club’s board over the coming days
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Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy admitted the club’s management structure could change in the wake of their European exit against PAOK Salonika. A 4-0 defeat in Greece completed a 6-1 aggregate defeat in the Europa Conference League play-off as PAOK progressed to the group phase.

McAvoy was given the head coach title during the summer with Steven Naismith named technical director because he does not hold the required UEFA Pro Licence to manage in continental competition. Asked if that would change now that Hearts are no longer playing in Europe, McAvoy admitted the Tynecastle hierarchy would make any decision.

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The issue is due to be discussed in the coming days by those in charge of the Edinburgh club. “It’s a good question, but that’s not for me to answer, it will be down to the people above me,” said McAvoy. “There’s the possibility that could happen, but that’s obviously down to the powers above me.”

McAvoy was unhappy with the manner of the 4-0 loss in Toumba Stadium. Brazilian winger Taison scored twice, with Spanish striker Brandon Thomas and midfielder Ioannis Konstantelias claiming the other goals. “The first goal is poor from our point of view,” admitted McAvoy.

“The boy is in an offside position but he manages to come back onside and VAR gives the goal. Our defending for the second goal is pretty poor as well. We changed the shape in the second half to become more aggressive and get the wing-backs forward. The next goal is crucial and if we get it it’s game on. That’s what we tried to do but we were punished by a poor defensive goal from our point of view.

“And then with the fourth, I don’t want to complain about the referee because he has a hard job, but I felt it was a free-kick on young Aiden Denholm. They’ve let it go, they’ve punished us and been clinical. Their front four were a menace all night, they have good wide players who caused us issues. I felt we had opportunities, particularly from set plays, but none of them go in and I felt that at the end of the day we were second best. We have to give credit to PAOK who did the business. Then they kept the ball better than we did.”

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Hearts have no time to feel sorry for themselves with a Premiership match against Motherwell looming this weekend. “We are straight back into business against Motherwell on Sunday in the league. We have to got to go and do our utmost to win,” said McAvoy. “We set ourselves the task of trying to get through to the group stages, we met a good opponent, we knew it would be a tough ask. We felt we were capable of getting through.

Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy and technical director Steven Naismith. Pic: SNSHearts head coach Frankie McAvoy and technical director Steven Naismith. Pic: SNS
Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy and technical director Steven Naismith. Pic: SNS

“Unfortunately it has not been the case. We can’t dwell on it, it’s gone. We finished fourth in the league last season, what we need to do now is try and finish third this season to guarantee us getting into the Conference League. That’s where you want to be, you want to be competing against the best teams. We need to do better back home in our league.”