London Hearts Supporters Club

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John Robertson <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> Iain Brines
17 of 019 ----- L SPL H

Robertson allies start to make headway


JOHN Robertson appears to be winning his battle to stay on as Hearts manager in the face of continued speculation linking others with the job. With the playing staff and key directors behind him, Robertson could be confirmed in his post some time in advance of the date in June which had been pencilled in for the decision.

Steven Pressley, the captain, is understood to have told the board of directors that the football staff support Robertson, while other players, including Lee Miller and Paul Hartley, have gone public with their backing. Both Phil Anderton, the chief executive, and George Foulkes, the chairman, also want the coach to be confirmed in his job for next season.

There is thus a growing consensus at Tynecastle that Robertson and his assistant coach, Donald Park, should be given more than their current six months to show they are the right men to take the club forward. Both are contracted until the summer of 2007, but when they joined from Inverness they agreed their positions should be reviewed this summer.

Hearts initially tried to stick to that arrangement, saying that nothing would be decided until June. In recent weeks, however, Robertson has argued convincingly that the uncertainty over his future is harming the club’s ability to plan for next season.

In particular, he contends that several players who Hearts want to sign have shied away from joining because they do not know who the manager will be. The same problem is also a factor in the case of players who are negotiating new or extended contracts at Hearts.

In the light of that situation, and of the fact that they are now daily involved in a firefight to quell new rumours about supposed candidates for the job, the club has accepted that it is best to act sooner. Robertson’s advocates on the board will acknowledge that, while there are aspects of the job he still has to master, he should be given more time to grow into it - not only for his sake, but also to avoid instability at the club.

A board meeting within the next week could finally end the uncertainty which over the past month has seen many coaches who become available for work - as well as a few who do not - linked with the Tynecastle job. Gary Johnson, the Yeovil Town manager, became the latest name to be connected with it yesterday when one report claimed he had met Anderton in Edinburgh last weekend. A Hearts spokesman rubbished that claim yesterday, saying that the chief executive had not even been in the country at the time.

"It was a physical impossibility," the spokesman said. "It did not happen. Phil was out of the country on a holiday which had been arranged before he was appointed chief executive."

Johnson signed a new three-year deal with Yeovil just two weeks ago, and a spokesman for the Somerset club said they had no reason to believe he had been in talks with anyone else. In the present fevered climate, however, such evidence of commitment to one’s present employment is apparently not enough to deter unfounded speculation.

Taken from the Scotsman

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