Austin MacPhee ready for Daniel Stendel and Ann Budge to decide his Hearts future

Assistant coach content to wait until after the dust settles on new appointment

Sunday, 8th December 2019, 10:39 am
Updated Sunday, 8th December 2019, 10:43 am
Austin MacPhee took charge of Hearts for the last time at a rain-soaked Fir Park

Austin MacPhee expects his Hearts future to be decided by incoming manager Daniel Stendel and club owner Ann Budge. He is officially due to return to an assistant coach's role at Riccarton when the German begins work on Tuesday but his long-term prospects at the Edinburgh club are unclear.

MacPhee took charge as interim manager for the last time on Saturday as Hearts lost 1-0 to Motherwell. That result left them joint-bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership again more than five weeks since sacking former manager Craig Levein.

Having overseen a win, a draw and four defeats during his six-game caretaker period, MacPhee must now wait to learn if Hearts will offer him a new position or dispense with his services. He expects Stendel and Budge to make that decision together.

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"Once the dust settles and the new coach is in place, Mrs Budge and the new coach will probably decide whether and where, if anywhere, my skills will be used to help the club. That's the reality of football. It's not one I'm shying away from," he said.

"You are managing with one hand tied behind your back as an interim. You need to finesse the situation, keep people happy and manage through relationships. I've managed to maintain that with the players. Results could have been better, of course they could.

"Everybody has to look at themselves and when there is a bit of uncertainty it can maybe be an excuse in any business when the boss is off. I remember at school how the supply teacher used to come in when your teacher was off," he smiled.

"It wasn't like that but you have to be sensitive to the situation and keep everybody on track. Some moments in games have been good and could have gone our way.

"On another night, we take three points against Livingston at home. On another day, we take a point at Motherwell. Ultimately, we haven't done that. I'm sure whoever is coming in will have watched these games and have his own views on the team. Some players will see it as a fresh start."

Hearts were without influential striker Steven Naismith at Fir Park due to a hamstring injury sustained against Livingston. "He has a grade one on the opposite hamstring that he injured before, so I'd imagine he will be missing for a couple of weeks," said MacPhee, who saw Motherwell's Chris Long score the game's only goal in the first half.

"I thought the game was relatively even. I thought Stephen [Robinson] expected us to play four at the back and that gave us the ascendancy early on. We created a couple of half chances and we could have committed more players to the box in the first period. We haven't gone ahead when we had those chances.

"Their goalkeeper shanks a kickout, they get to the final third and we have to deal better with the player [Hylton] in the wide area. Long drifts off Berra and it's a brilliant finish. I really like Motherwell's front players. They give the team a lot of energy and they scored with their first shot on goal.

"That rocks us. You can see the confidence isn't in the team and there is maybe a lack of belief that we are going to score without [Conor] Washington and Naismith there, particularly away from home. Motherwell started the second half but we came back into the game.

"We looked a bit more of a threat moving to 3-5-2 from 3-4-3 after bring Uche Ikpeazu on, but we lack a cutting edge at the top end of the pitch. I think you could see that. Motherwell managed last ten minutes well but I thought a draw would have been a fairer result. We paid for that lack of firepower."