Christophe Berra: Hearts have had worse times so let Ann Budge take time to find new manager
Captain happy to let club owner do her due diligence on Craig Levein's replacement
Christophe Berra remembers far more unsettling Hearts times than the current uncertainty while the club seek a new manager and sporting director. He experienced coaches disappearing to Lithuania with stress and wages not being paid under former owner Vladimir Romanov. This is a walk in the Tynecastle park by comparison.
More than three weeks since sacking Craig Levein, Hearts still have his assistant, Austin MacPhee, in interim charge of the first team. They travel to Kilmarnock this afternoon and may need to wait until December for a permanent replacement to arrive. Owner Ann Budge is taking a careful and considerate approach in the recruitment process despite some fans growing impatient.
“Austin is interim manager, he takes training, we do what we’re told,” said Berra. “I’ve been in a lot more unsettling situations, chopping and changing. I don’t know what the average length of service for a manager is now, 11 months or something? It’s the nature of the beast and players have to get used to it.
“With the exception of maybe Sir Alex Ferguson, there is a big turnover and it’s a harsh business to be in.”
The craziest period of the defender’s career came during his first spell at Riccarton. “When I was captain and I was 21 or something, we were getting paid a few days late and I was having to tell the boys. When I look back, it wasn’t as stressful as you think it was,” he admitted.
“The older you get, you realise that it’s not the case for younger players who have not got mortgages to pay. They don’t think about that. But this is nowhere near that. We get on with business, we enjoy training, we come in and work hard. We learn, we be professional and we go home. Then it’s the game. All we can focus on is Kilmarnock.”
Ideally, the Hearts players would like to know their next boss just as much as fans. Berra knows the process won’t move quickly.
“I think everyone wants certainty. Let’s be honest, you would like to know,” he said. “The owner is taking her time, she’s doing a thorough job – which she’s got a right to do. She wants to make the right appointment. These things happen. All we can do is focus on training and games. There is nothing we can do about it. It’s out of our hands.
“They’re obviously doing their interviews and carrying out due diligence. We just have to go out on the training pitch and give our all, get better and learn. We turn up on matchday and do our jobs. We’re not turning up worrying about who it’s going to be. You have to be consistent in your job.
Hearts face a hectic period of eight games during December, so recruiting a new manager before then would appeal. “Probably that would be a good scenario, but only the owner will know that,” said Berra.
“She’s getting on with her interviews, I’m sure they’ve got a shortlist or are targeting someone. She’ll probably know in her head, what she’s doing. But nobody else knows.”