Paul Hartley has admitted that he enjoyed working under both Graham Rix and Valdas Ivanauskas during his time at Hearts, even though both managers came across as incredibly nervous in front of the players.
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Rix was a controversial appointment as the replacement for George Burley after the ex-Ipswich Town manager left the club following a breakdown of his relationship with majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov.
The former Arsenal star would last only four-and-a-half months at Tynecastle as Hearts slipped from the top of the table. Rix would also reveal that Romanov had picked the team prior to an away match at Dundee United.
Despite the downturn in form, Hartley insists he liked Rix but wasn’t sure if he was cut out for management.
He told Simon Ferry on Open Goal: “He was a brilliant coach. But he was dead nervous, so nervous as a manager. He was more of a coach.
“He used to smoke these wee cigars outside the Riccarton training ground and he’d pull you aside and ask, ‘How am I doing? How am I doing? What do you think? Are we doing all right?’”
“The talk was that Romanov wanted [Gianluca] Vialli and he recommended Rix.
“I thought he was a brilliant coach. I still speak to him now.”
Rix was replaced by Lithuanian coach Valdas Ivanauskas who would steady the ship by keeping Hearts on a course for second place and winning the 2006 Scottish Cup. He would eventually leave the following year.
Like his predecessor, Ivanauskas was another man whom Hartley thought struggled with the demands of the job.
He said: “I liked Valdas, but again he was a nervous wreck. He would change the team two hours before a game.
“We’d always stay in a hotel pre-match, home or away. He would then go out and make a phone call and come back in and the team was changed. The sweat would be dripping off him.
“The team talks were 45 minutes. Most team talks should be about five minutes, but his were 45. But I liked him, he was a good man.”