London Hearts Supporters Club

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Robson doubts over Hearts job

By Gary Jacob
IT SEEMED inevitable that the brutal hostilities that are continuing to engulf Heart of Midlothian would discourage some from becoming manager, and last night, Sir Bobby Robson said that he had serious fears about the vacancy.

Robson has been the front-runner for the role since being interviewed last week, but he has reconsidered his position after Vladimir Romanov, the majority shareholder, effectively forced the departure from the club of George Foulkes, the chairman, and Phil Anderton, the chief executive, in a caustic week at Tynecastle. They were replaced with Roman Romanov, Vladimir’s only child.

Anderton was sacked on Monday, having interviewed Robson and Claudio Ranieri, after the club parted company with George Burley as manager because of “irreconcilable differences” nearly two weeks ago. “I know George (Foulkes) very, very well, I got to know Philip Anderton just as well in a way, liked him enormously, thought he was a top man,” Robson said. “I came home and said to myself: ‘Well, I could work for him because he seems to be such an intelligent, forthright, honest person’.

“But he’s lost his job and it does give me a lot of concern because the owner, the chairman of any football club is a very important man and if he’s right then more often than not the club will be right through him so I’m just waiting, watching, listening and looking.”

Ranieri’s financial demands were too high, but Romanov is said to have been impressed that, at the age of 72, Robson’s boundless enthusiasm and appetite has not been diminished by more than a year out of the game, since when he has acted as an ambassador for Nobok, the worldwide legends company.

“When I went to Edinburgh last week for Johnny Haynes’ funeral, I took the opportunity of actually meeting Vladimir Romanov, the owner of Hearts, and he had just increased his stake in the club, I think the day before that, so he actually is the owner,” Robson said. “He runs the club, no question about that, he owns it and I put forward my views and really I’m just quite honestly awaiting a response from them.”

Robson is still smarting from his dismissal by Newcastle United, just over two weeks into the start of last season. He has always insisted that he would return to the game in a senior capacity, and has since come to regret turning down posts at Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County and Wolverhampton Wanderers and Hearts.

“I know how competent I am and what I’m good at and what I can do and, in spite of my age, I’ve got a lot of energy and I know I’ve got one good job left in me,” Robson said. “I’m one of these people who likes to work and there’s lots of people in the world who don’t like to work; some don’t work, some don’t like to work and some can’t wait to retire. I hit retirement age seven years ago, but I’m still working so I just have a need to work; the drug gnaws at me and I need an injection still, so, I’m waiting for the injection. I’ll have to wait and see.”

Lothar Matthäus, the former Germany captain who has coached at Rapid Vienna and Partizan Belgrade, has withdrawn his application. But Wim van Hanegem, who was assistant coach for Holland during the European Championship last year, has declared an interest. “I am aware of what has been happening at Tynecastle and the club is at the start of a very exciting period,” Van Hanegem said. “I have no doubt my vision for football would fit the mentality of the Scottish game.”

Romanov is having discussions with other candidates in London this week. The Lithuanian, whose wealth is estimated at between £200 million and £500 million, bought a 29.9 per cent share, but is now the majority shareholder after increasing his stake to 55.5 per cent in the past two weeks. He has transferred the club’s £20 million debt to his Lithuanian bank.

His decisions are likely to be costly though. Burley is expected to receive a compensation package that could total £500,000, equivalent to the two-year contract he signed in June. Anderton can expect a pay-off of about £120,000, and Hearts are still to recompense Burley’s predecessor, John Robertson, when he vacated Tynecastle in May.

“Roman Romanov said that he and his father should be judged in 12 months and not 12 days,” Foulkes said. “Well, what I am saying now is what’s done is done. I didn’t want to be part of the kind of management style Romanov has, but I will remain behind the team and I hope that Hearts can prosper under the Lithuanian leadership.”

Taken from

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