Hearts are seeking an experienced head coach to replace Ian Cathro as owner Ann Budge refuses to gamble with the next managerial appointment.
The Edinburgh club’s last two managers, Cathro and Robbie Neilson, were untried and Budge wants someone capable of quickly galvanising players and fans alike.
The businesswoman is ready to rethink the management recruitment model put in place by director of football Craig Levein three years ago. The Evening News has learned she is not keen to promote from within or hire an experimental head coach this time.
Initially, Levein promoted Neilson from Under-20 coach to head coach and he successfully guided Hearts to the Championship title, promotion and into Europe inside two years. He joined MK Dons last December.
Levein replaced Neilson with Cathro, then aged 30 and untested as a manager. The appointment didn’t work and he was sacked on Tuesday morning after eight wins in his 30 games in charge.
Budge and the Tynecastle board are now determined to recruit an experienced figurehead in his place.
Amongst the early candidates are former Hearts captain Paul Hartley, St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright and Partick Thistle’s Alan Archibald. Hartley is out of work but compensation would be required to prise Wright or Archibald from their clubs.
The Falkirk manager Peter Houston may also come into contention. He worked alongside Levein previously with Hearts, Dundee United and Scotland. Again, Falkirk would want compensation if he left.
Yesterday’s Evening News revealed that Hearts’ 2012 Scottish Cup-winning coach Paulo Sergio has already applied for the job. He would be a popular choice with fans but it remains to be seen if the club’s board show any desire to bring him back to Gorgie.
Jon Daly, Austin MacPhee and Liam Fox will take charge of Hearts for Saturday’s opening Ladbrokes Premiership match at Celtic Park. Under-20 coach Daly is interim head coach, aided by assistant coach MacPhee and first-team coach Fox. They will remain in charge until a new man is appointed.
A statement released by Hearts read: “The club can confirm that the recruitment process is already underway to identify and appoint a new permanent head coach.
“During this process, Jon Daly has been asked to take charge of first-team matters on an interim basis, supported by the current coaching team of assistant head coach Austin MacPhee and first-team coach Liam Fox. This interim setup will take charge of the first-team’s Ladbrokes Premiership match at Celtic on Saturday, and until a new head coach has been appointed.”