Gary Mackay: Big name doesn't matter but Ann Budge must get next Hearts appointment right

Win on Saturday helped regenerate a feel-good factor

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 4:45 pm
Hearts owner Ann Budge is seeking to appoint a new manager

I’ve met Austin MacPhee twice and he is a very personable individual. Personally, I wouldn’t have any qualms if he was involved in the Hearts set-up going forward. What I’m more concerned about is that the next move is the right move.

This is a massive time in Ann Budge’s stewardship. Robbie Neilson led us very well but he jumped ship too early. I think that was because he felt his power was diluted.

We have since had two periods where our league results have been nothing short of disastrous under Ian Cathro and Craig Levein. So this becomes a massive appointment and it simply has to be right. I’m not fussy about a big name. I just want someone who can galvanise the group of players we have right now.

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If the process takes four, five, six weeks, then fine as long as it ends in the correct appointment. If Austin MacPhee wins games during that period then it becomes more of an interview for him.

I was at the Big Hearts function on Saturday night and you could just feel a big sigh of relief from everyone after beating St Mirren 5-2 in a must-win game. It made the evening more enjoyable.

Austin was there and people like Gary Locke were delighted that we’d won. It just makes it a different atmosphere for anybody who follows Hearts when you can go out with your head held high on a Saturday night.

The Rangers game was almost going to be an impossible task after the run of results we had suffered. What Austin tried to do on Saturday was put his stamp on things with the players he had available. We still looked rusty at times in defence but that comes from confidence.

You can only ask your interim manager to go and win football matches and Saturday was the second league win in 19 for Hearts. Let’s accept that and think about where we are now in the league table.

I know Austin was commenting in the media about still possibly qualifying for the Europa League, and why not? With the squad of players we have, it’s possible.

If we can get a run of results going then we can look at it. We have already beaten Aberdeen in the Betfred Cup at Tynecastle. Set your stall out and see how it goes from there.

Subconsciously, for the players, if you have an interim manager saying Europe is attainable after his first league game in charge, that tells the players he has a bit of belief in them.

Austin has made one shrewd move already. I said to John Murray about ten years ago when Hearts were restructuring their youth academy that either Donald Park or Sandy Clark should lead it.

Austin has shown foresight by promoting Donald to help him with the first team. No disrespect to the other coaches at Hearts but they cannot lay a glove on the experience Donald has – as a coach and in terms of Heart of Midlothian knowledge.