The list of criteria Hearts' new manager must meet to succeed in Tynecastle dugout

Owner Ann Budge needs a coach who can tick many boxes

Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 11:40 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 11:40 am
The Tynecastle dugout is about to welcome a new manager
The Tynecastle dugout is about to welcome a new manager

The new Hearts manager must meet a list of criteria to succeed in a job where predecessors Craig Levein and Ian Cathro failed. His skillset needs to be extensive, hence owner Ann Budge declaring the club will cast their net "far and wide" to find the right candidate.

Immediate pressure is guaranteed with Hearts currently joint-bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership. Their position may have improved by the time the new man arrives but he is still likely to join a club firmly in the bottom half of the table.

Yet he must do more than simply put out fires over the winter and guide the team towards the league's top six. The job is all-encompassing and there are a number of other important boxes to tick:

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Many supporters are disenchanted after seeing their team finish fifth under Cathro and sixth twice under Levein over the last three years. Some turned on Levein and Budge prior to the manager's dismissal, upset with both results and the turgid style of football on offer. That can't continue. Like any club, fans are the lifeblood and Hearts need to get all of theirs back onside by making a popular appointment in the dugout.


A club with European aspirations and a budget to match should be nowhere near the bottom half of the league. The new manager's first task is therefore a straightforward one: Win games, get points and push away from the relegation zone towards the top six. That is an immediate priority. It sounds simple but, if it was, Hearts would not be joint-bottom right now. No team in the Scottish Premiership gives up points easily.


This would scare off a lot of managers but Budge has made it clear her next incumbent will report to her and have full autonomy for the first team. The new sporting director, when appointed, will deal with everything else like youth academy business and coaching staff. He will also help negotiate contracts and recruit players on the manager's instruction. In that sense, it should not be a repeat of the situation when Levein was director of football above Cathro and previous head coach Robbie Neilson.


Riccarton is a potential goldmine for Hearts but pathways to the first team have been blocked by so many senior signings recently. Hearts gave more game time to teenagers than any top-flight European club during season 2017/18 - 5595 minutes in total. The likes of Harry Cochrane, Aidan Keena, Anthony McDonald and many others have not been given the same opportunities since as more experienced players joined the first-team squad. Aaron Hickey and Andy Irving have managed to establish themselves this season but Budge is adamant the youth academy should be utilised for more first-team players in future.


No supporter expects Hearts to suddenly become Manchester City or Barcelona in terms of playing style. However, entertainment value has been dreadfully low in recent seasons at Tynecastle Park. The new manager's priority is to win, but if he can do so while playing an attacking brand of football he will also attract more people through the turnstiles - and please existing regulars in the process.


Almost 80 players have been signed by Hearts since Levein was appointed director of football in 2014. Some have been excellent value, such as Kyle Lafferty, Michael Smith and John Souttar. Others like Rafal Grzelak and Danny Amankwaa have been awful. A total of 18 new signings arrived in summer 2018, with another eight this year. It is no great surprise that, with such a large and frequent turnover of staff, Hearts have struggled to find consistency in their results. Better recruitment planning is essential going forward.


Following on from the previous point, there may not be a huge amount of money for signings in January. There are some funds available but Hearts spent a lot of their budget in the summer to secure experienced internationalists like Steven Naismith and Conor Washington. The new manager must get more out of the existing pool of players, although there will be scope to add one or two of his own should he desire.


The situation at Tynecastle is intense right now as supporters' frustration has reached its peak. They want better results quickly after just one win in the last 18 league fixtures. Whoever Budge appoints will be expected to deliver, at least on the short-term goal of steering the club away from the bottom of the league. That brings pressure. Add in media scrutiny plus the demands of those within the club and it's a role for someone with the broadest shoulders and the thickest skin.


One of the reasons for Hearts' malaise is that opposition teams are no longer intimidated playing at Tynecastle. If anything, one of Scotland's most hostile and atmospheric venues has become a disadvantage to home players in recent months due to supporters' voicing their anger. Hearts have recorded only two home league wins to date in 2019 - stats which were previously unheard of in Gorgie. Strong home form underpins any team's success and Hearts are no different.