JOHN ROBERTSON is on the verge of returning to Hearts as a coach, the Evening News can reveal.
The club’s all-time record goalscorer is poised to take charge of the under-17s at Riccarton next season. His arrival could be announced as early as Monday alongside a new youth academy manager, Roger Arnott, and under-20s coach Jack Ross.
Robertson has to negotiate a move from his home in Inverness but he is ready to rejoin the club where he scored a record 214 league goals. He also managed at Tynecastle during season 2004-05 but his last full-time football post was as East Fife manager, which he left in March 2012.
The 49-year-old coached first-team players once a week without pay at Riccarton last season under previous manager Gary Locke. Now he has been offered a job by Hearts’ new director of football Craig Levein – his former team-mate – nurturing the club’s teenagers on the road to professional football.
Arnott will be announced on Monday as the new manager of the Riccarton youth academy. A well-respected coach from Fife, he was in charge of Hearts’ under-12s last season and shares the development philosophy which Levein and head coach Robbie Neilson want to underpin the club’s future. He has also worked as a regional coach with the Scottish Football Association as well as with Dunfermline and sportscotland.
Arnott replaces former academy director John Murray, who is back in his previous role as chief scout. Arnott is to work under Levein to oversee Hearts’ youth development teams, with particular focus on players aged 16 and under.
Ross completes his last day of work at PFA Scotland today and starts as Hearts’ new under-20s coach on Monday. In tandem with his job at the players’ union, he has been assistant manager to Ian Murray at Dumbarton for the last two- and-a-half years. The 38-year-old resigned from both roles to join up at Riccarton.
Refusing to confirm specific names of those coming in, Levein explained the importance of having the correct people working around him. “The staff are important, they need to be in place, and once they are in place it is about making sure the plans start where they are supposed to start and end where they are supposed to end. Player education and coach education are the key points,” he said.
“Robbie is in, Stevie Crawford is in and on Monday we will have a new academy manager and under-20s coach. We are still working on an under-17s coach, that should be done on Monday as well. So there are three new people coming in, and there are other minor bits and pieces to be done.”
Ross was at New Douglas Park on Wednesday night as Hearts lost 1-0 to Hamilton Accies in a friendly. He admitted he is sad to be leaving Dumbarton.
“When I first joined we were second or third bottom of what was the Second Division so it has been brilliant to see the club come on so far. I have loved it,” he said. “Dumbarton gave me the opportunity, shortly after I had stopped playing, to get into coaching. At first the ambition was there to get to the play-offs but as we achieved more we wanted more and more.
“When I take a step back and reflect it really has been tremendous and I am sure the success will continue. I have been fortunate to be with the club during such a successful period on the pitch. I will miss the players.
“Some of them have been here since I first joined and they have been brilliant.
“I have grown close to the players and with Ian both professionally and personally and it is hard to move on.”