Next Hearts manager: Eight possible candidates to take over

Hearts are looking for a new manager Hearts are looking for a new manager
Hearts are looking for a new manager | SNS Group
Hearts are looking for a new manager after sacking Robbie Neilson seven games from the end of the season. Here we weigh up the pros and cons of eight possible contenders to take over.

STEVEN NAISMITH

Steven Naismith  Steven Naismith
Steven Naismith | SNS Group

He would be a popular choice among the fans and a straightforward one for the club given that he is already on the staff. The 36-year-old is currently in charge of the Hearts B team – who have only four games left in the Lowland League – and is a valuable member of Scotland boss Steve Clarke’s backroom team.

He hasn’t had a strong association with the first-team under Neilson’s reign, which gives him an advantage in that he would come into it without baggage and with a fresh pair of eyes.

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It’s no secret that he wants to be a manager one day, but Naismith also knows how important it is to pick the right job at the right time when making that big first step onto the managerial merry-go-round. Fall off too early and it is difficult to get back on.

He has already had talks with a couple of clubs about taking that first step into management but decided not to apply. He’d only take it if it was right for him.

Given all that, the success of Barry Robson at Aberdeen and the fact that there are only seven games left before the end of the season, it would make perfect sense for all parties if Naismith was given the job on an interim basis until the end of the season.

GRAHAM ARNOLD

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At 59, the Australia national team boss must know time is running out for him to test himself in Europe, so the Hearts job could be an opportunity that would pique his interest.

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He proved that he can squeeze every last drop and get the very best out of his players during a successful World Cup in Qatar and that is exactly what Hearts have lacked and needed in recent weeks.

He would, of course, be very familiar with the four Australian international players already in the Hearts squad and could potentially source other talented but affordable players from that part of the world.

It would be a bold appointment from the board, but Celtic were bold with the appointment of countryman Ange Postecoglou and that has paid off in spades.

NATHAN JONES

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He was sacked by Southampton after just 13 games in charge this season, but the 49-year-old Welshman did a fantastic job over two spells at Luton Town and had them punching well above their weight in the Championship.

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His 10 months in charge of Stoke City in between those two spells didn’t go quite as well, but he has shown he has what it takes to challenge at the top end of a table against teams with bigger budgets. That’s exactly what Hearts are after, but his knowledge of the Scottish game will count against him.

NEIL MacFARLANE

Neil MacFarlaneNeil MacFarlane
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The former Hearts midfielder is very highly regarded as head coach of Brentford’s innovative B team, a role he’s fulfilled for nearly four years.

The 44-year-old from Dunoon, who played for Hearts from 2002 to 2006, began his coaching career as assistant to Steven Pressley at Falkirk and moved with the former Hearts skipper to Coventry City, Fleetwood Town and Pafos.

He was also a first-team coach under Robbie Neilson at MK Dons and was manager of Kidderminster Harriers for eight months before parting company and joining the Brentford project when the club were in the English Championship.

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His Hearts connection and coaching pedigree are plus points, but lack of experience as a manager would count against him.

CZESLAW MICHNIEWICZ

Czeslaw Michniewicz Czeslaw Michniewicz
Czeslaw Michniewicz | AFP via Getty Images

The former Poland manager was high up in the betting when the Aberdeen job became available. He left his role when his contract was not extended after taking Poland to the last 16 of the World Cup.

The 52-year-old would bring European experience to Tynecastle, having won the Polish league titles with Legia Warsaw and Zagłebie Lubinm.

He also led Legia to the group stages of the Europa League in 2021. Would be a left-field appointment but an intriguing one. Would perhaps be better taking over in the summer than at this stage of the season.

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GARRY MONK

Garry Monk Garry Monk
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The 44-year-old Englishman was a rising managerial star during his tenure at Swansea City 10 years ago. He then went on to manage Leeds, Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday.

Although he has been out of the managerial frying pan since leaving Hillsborough in November 2000, he is still keeping himself busy as a coach and coach educator.

“My spells at Leeds, Middlesbrough, Birmingham and Wednesday all turned out to be fire-fighting jobs, where I had about a five-week window to improve results before pressure came to bear from fans and the board,” Monk explained on a coaching course at Queen’s University.

He may regard a job in the Scottish Premiership as a fresh start, but has probably been out of the game for too long to be a realistic candidate.

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DANNY COWLEY

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Has already said he is keen to get back into management after being sacked by Portsmouth and was linked with the Aberdeen vacancy a couple of months ago. He would come with his brother Nicky as part of his backroom team.

Cowley worked his way up from the lower leagues of English football, taking Lincoln up to League One, then managing Huddersfiield and then Portsmouth. He almost led the club to the League One play-offs, spending just under two years on the south coast before being sacked. Not a candidate who would excite the fans.

MIKE TULLBERG

Mike Tullberg  Mike Tullberg
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The former Hearts striker currently manages the Borussia Dortmund Under-19 team who knocked Hibs out of the UEFA Youth League earlier this year and spoke fondly of his time in Gorgie.

The 37-year-old promising Danish coach recently said that he is extremely happy in his current role in Germany, but he has been linked with various jobs in the Bundesliga.

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