Why Hearts return for Jim Jefferies is a no-brainer - cup-winning legend is the perfect man for Tynecastle role

The 69-year-old was appointed as an advisor to the board of directors

By Joel Sked
Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 5:00 pm

There are very few individuals who earn unanimous admiration amongst the Hearts fans. Men who could be handed the keys to Gorgie or warrant a statue in Foundation Plaza.

One of those individuals has just been re-introduced to life at Tynecastle Park, much to the glee of supporters.

It’s been more than 3,200 days since Jim Jefferies was sacked as Hearts boss for the second time at the start of the 2011/12 season, bringing an end to a short but fruitful spell in charge under Vladimir Romanov.

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Jim Jefferies is perfectly suited for the advisor role at Hearts. Picture: SNS

Even when he departed, fans knew there could be a reunion down the line. Romanov’s time at the helm of the club had an expiration date, Jefferies’ love and passion for the club was eternal.

Now he’s back in his third different role at the club, as advisor to Ann Budge and the board of directors.

Legend isn’t strong enough

To say the news went down positively with the Hearts support would be an understatement. Like saying the Romanov reign was eventful or Jurassic Park is a good movie.

Jefferies was back in front of the Hearts support just over a month after his health scare. Picture: SNS

It can’t be underestimated the standing Jefferies has amongst the fans. This is a Hearts fan who ended a 36-year trophy drought with one of the most beloved and memorable squads built in the club’s 146-history.

Legend is not a strong enough word to describe the 69-year-old.

That feeling from fans was evident only 10 months ago when Jefferies suffered a heart attack while playing golf.

"I died for 20 seconds but I was in the right place because these people knew what to do and they were absolutely brilliant as I blacked out," he said a matter of days after.

Just over a month later he was back at Tynecastle as a guest, given a huge half-time ovation.

Earlier this year he appeared on Si Ferry’s Open Goal podcast in what was an excellent and enlightening interview. During the hour and a half he spoke, it reaffirmed the view held by many fans - there had to be a place for this totemic figure at the club.

His presence in and around Tynecastle would be uplifting to a fan base which had a difficult relationship with Craig Levein.

The appointment of Jefferies is not one to placate the fans, however, or an opportunity spotted by Ann Budge to curry favour after suffering, at times, severe criticism over the past 18 months or so.

Anyone who has paid attention to Hearts since 2014 will know that is not how Budge works.

Perfect role

It is a shrewd move following the postponement of the search for a sporting director. Filling that role initially took precedent over appointing a new manager. Yet, as is so often the case, things change quickly in football. Few saw Robbie Neilson returning to the club for a second spell as manager.

With so much going on in the background with regards to the legal challenge of the SPFL, plus a return to training on the horizon and preparing a squad for what will likely be a Championship campaign it makes sense to park what will be a significant appointment for a key role.

There are few better suited to fill the part-time advisor position for six months than Jefferies, who admitted the full scale sporting director job is not something he is looking for.

Firstly, you look at the dynamic with the manager. They have a pre-existing relationship, Jefferies having given Neilson his Hearts debut.

Neilson has spoken often and positively about having someone working above him to relieve some of the burden and allow him to focus on coaching and improving his squad, something which was an issue when he first arrived at MK Dons.

Bringing him in not only allows Neilson to tap into the banks of knowledge he has built up over five decades in the game, but also, and perhaps more importantly, the board who have been devoid of a football presence since Levein’s sacking as manager and director of football.

Jefferies’ War and Peace

Budge would be the first to admit that she is not au fait with many of the intricacies and complexities in Scottish football. Having Jefferies on the other end of the phone to offer insight and provide guidance is invaluable.

While he has spent the majority of his career at the top level he has experience of all four tiers in Scotland. His contacts book may well be Scottish football’s answer to Tolstoy’s War and Peace such is its depth.

As he said: “I can advise them on things that have maybe just been lacking attention and some things that have not been working. It’s as simple as that.”

Bringing Jefferies back to Hearts, having his presence around the club, leaning on his expertise and experience, is both an astute move and a no-brainer. It really is as simple as that.

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