Ann Budge reveals Hearts sporting director duties will be shared by Craig Levein and Austin MacPhee

Club owner splits responsibilities to let new manager Daniel Stendel focus on first team

Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 10:30 pm
Hearts owner Ann Budge is looking for a permanent sporting director

Hearts owner Ann Budge has instructed new manager Daniel Stendel to focus on first-team coaching whilst Austin MacPhee and Craig Levein share sporting director duties.

It is likely to be some time after New Year that Budge is ready to recruit a permanent candidate in the sporting director role. In the meantime, assistant coach MacPhee and former manager Levein will share the responsibilities of the job and leave Stendel free to concentrate on the team.

MacPhee will work on recruitment and video analysis, with Levein focused on youth and other background issues until his contract expires next summer.

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Stendel took his first training session at Riccarton yesterday morning after signing a two-and-a-half-year contract to replace Levein as Hearts manager. He was assisted by MacPhee and reserve coach Andy Kirk, with fellow coaches Jon Daly and Liam Fox away on a course.

Stendel would like to bring both Chris Stern and Dale Tonge, his assistants at former club Barnsley, to Edinburgh but for now is working with existing Hearts coaches.

“I know this is unusual in football but Austin brings with him a lot of useful qualities,” said Budge when asked about MacPhee’s future. “He’s been working on the recruitment side of things for a few months now and building relationships with the likes of Man City. I think everyone knows we have a relationship there.

"I don’t want to lose that, so there is still a lot of value, and a big job to do. The squad is bigger than we want it to be. For various reasons we’ve got ourselves into this situation, so we’ve got to trim and bring in new players who can play the style of football Daniel wants to play.

"I want Daniel totally focused on the first-team, totally focused, and he can shout his demands and say ‘I need somebody with this, that and the other’ or ‘this person is not going to work’ and I want somebody else to say ‘okay, we’ll go away and address that’.

“I don’t want to do this big umbrella thing because then people ask if the manager reports to him or does he report to him? They’ve got different jobs.

"I’ve got Craig looking at certain parts of the operation, largely youth, but a bit more than that. Austin will focus very much on recruitment and video analysis, which is very much his strength. He’s the stats man, as you know. Daniel will focus on the first-team.”

Asked if there will be a quick appointment of a sporting director, Budge replied: “We’ve got some important decisions to make and me bringing in somebody else new to the club, I don’t think that’s the best way of doing it.

“So, I want to use Austin and Daniel together to try to determine what we want to do on the recruitment front, and January is all about trying to change the squad around. In the meanwhile, in the background, I’ll be going through CVs and talking to people. I’m not desperate to get somebody in the door tomorrow.

“Austin will be doing part of that job and Craig will be doing another part of it. They could continue in that. If I find somebody I think will be absolutely perfect for taking on what in my mind is the sporting director’s role, then Austin, myself and Craig will have to sit down and talk about it.”

MacPhee is interested in the sporting director job. “Potentially, yes,” said Budge. “But, again, I think the key thing is we have to define exactly what that role is. So, the way it is in my head, he’ll be doing part of that role. Will he be the right person to do the whole role? We’ll see.”

She won’t appoint a sporting director and keep MacPhee and Levein on the payroll. “I don’t think I want to go there, because that it is, again, a bit of a bloated management structure.

“Austin and Craig are both under contract until the end of this season. If I find somebody else, I have to sit down and talk, whether it’s Austin or Craig, to say I’m bringing somebody in.

“The one thing I am with all of them is completely honest. They know that I think the best way forward is all getting behind the new manager. We’ve got priorities in recruitment and trimming the squad, etc. Let’s really focus on getting that done.

“We ran a couple of tournaments last year and we’re going to do more of that. Austin was heavily involved in that. Again, there are things I need to get to a certain point and whether it’s Austin or whether it’s Craig, they are people who I think can get us there.

“Meanwhile, I’m looking for one person to do all of it. I’m not setting a timeframe on it.”