Jon Daly hopes weekly meetings with Hearts owner Ann Budge over the last four weeks have given him an advantage in the race to become the club’s new head coach.
The Irishman revealed today that a pre-match briefing with the chairwoman is the norm for managers at Tynecastle. Since replacing Ian Cathro on an interim basis at the start of the month, the Under-20 coach has continued the trend.
Steven Pressley and Paul Hartley have both been interviewed for the job and are in contention alongside Daly. However, they have not enjoyed the benefit of being able to sell their ideas to Budge through weekly conversations the way Daly has.
Budge plans to announce the new head coach next week following Hearts’ Premiership match with Motherwell at Fir Park. “I’ve not had an official interview in front of a panel or in front of the board or anything like that,” explained Daly. “I went down to see Ann last week – which the management normally do before a game – just to run her through the plan for the weekend, what we did in training and explain it so she’s knows what she is looking for on a Saturday.
“I went down to see her on Friday but we never had an interview or anything like that. Ann takes an active interest in the football, so Robbie [Neilson] used to go and speak to her and explain, and Ian as well. Being in charge at the minute, I am happy to do the same. It keeps An in the loop on the football side.
“She is very interested in the football side of things and how everything works, so it’s just to show her this is the training we have done; this is what we have done in terms of leading towards the game; these are the areas we feel we can get at the opposition and the areas we feel we need to be wary of.
“So it’s just to give her a rundown and show her what we’ve explained to the players.
“Are they like job interviews? I don’t know. It’s just something that I am very happy to do. I’m in the role at the minute and whether that continues remains to be seen, but it is something I have enjoyed doing.
“Ann takes an active interest in that side of things. I’ve got no problem going down to explain what we are doing and what we are hoping to do.”
Budge has been keen not to rush an appointment and is relaxed with Daly in interim control alongside coaches Austin MacPhee and Liam Fox. So far, that triumvirate have overseen a defeat by Celtic, a win over Kilmarnock and a draw with Rangers.
They will remain in charge against Motherwell, hoping to continue the momentum built at Rugby Park and Ibrox and build on the clean sheets recorded in both those fixtures.
“I think it shows that we are doing a decent enough job and the players are responding to what we are trying to do,” said Daly, reflecting on results since he took temporary control. “If we had lost the opening three games then there would be more pressure on the board to appoint a new manager.
“The fact we have got some results, points on the board, has given the club more time to make the appointment they feel is the right one.”
Hearts will continue playing away from Tynecastle until November, with three “home” fixtures to be staged at BT Murrayfield before then whilst the new £12million main stand in Gorgie is completed. Daly admitted that the situation is not ideal but is determined to make the best of it by improving the team’s resilience.
“I think we are in extreme circumstances, playing away from home every week, so I’m having to set the team out in a different way to be defensively solid,” said Daly. “We haven’t had the chance to show what we would like the team to do offensively.
“It will be different when we are back at Tynecastle and have 18,000 people cheering us on and encouraging the team. The players have taken on board our structure and what we want to do. If we can get them to fitness levels that are a little bit sharper, a little bit fitter, then we can do the defensive and offensive sides of the game.
“We need to give ourselves the best chance so that, when we do return to Tynecastle, we are not cut adrift from where we need to be.
“As a coaching staff, we are well aware that the away record hasn’t been great so to get a few away wins under our belt between now and going home would give us the best possible chance to push on.”