McGlynn previously spent a decade in various coaching capacities at Tynecastle before leaving to take over as manager of Raith Rovers in 2006. After winning promotion to the First Division in the 2008/9 season, McGlynn led the club to a seventh place finish and the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup the following season. Raith narrowly missed out on a return to the Scottish Premier League in the 2010/11 campaign and finished mid-table again last season.
Some may see the appointment as an underwhelming one, especially after Hearts’ owner, Vladimir Romanov, claimed that experienced managers from around Europe had applied for the job.
However, Robbie Nielson, one of the players nurtured by McGlynn during his spell as youth coach at the Gorgie club, believes that McGlynn’s work ethos and determination will see him succeed as Tynecastle. The former Hearts right-back said: “He’ll be the first guy in and the last guy to leave every day. You only ever get 100 per cent from John. I think he would be a good option for Hearts.”
Gregory Tade, who spent two years under McGlynn’s management at Raith, has also backed his former manager to succeed should he be given the job. He said: “I know that he doesn’t have that much experience as a manager in the SPL but I am sure that he will adapt.” The French striker puts his successful spell with Raith, which won him a move SPL side Inverness Caley Thistle, down to McGlynn’s coaching.
He said: “I owe him a lot; in fact I probably owe him my whole career, because if it wasn’t for him I don’t know what would have happened.” The Frenchman continued: “The lads like him in the changing room, when you are working with him you want to give 100 per cent.”
The need for Scottish clubs to operate within their means has been illustrated with the demise of Rangers in recent months and McGlynn’s appointment would be indicative of Scottish clubs’ tightening of their finances. Romanov, who has invested large sums of money into Hearts, has been forced to take a more frugal approach to the club’s spending given the current climate and his intention to restore the club’s financial health in order to sell his shares.
Hearts are unlikely to be able to attract the kind of players which have delivered two-Scottish Cup victories and a second-place finish during Romanov’s tenure, with the emphasis likely to be on bringing through youth players over the next few years. Neilson believes that McGlynn is an ideal candidate to guide the club in this direction, saying: “If Hearts are going to bring young boys through and put out a younger team, John would be a good man to do it. That’s what he’s done throughout his career.”
Working with a restricted budget is unlikely to perturb McGlynn as the limitations on his spending at Raith have been far greater than those he would face at Tynecastle.
McGlynn is already familiar with a number of the Hearts squad. Jason Holt, Denis Prychynenko, Jamie Walker and David Smith all spent last season on loan at Raith. Furthermore, Jamie MacDonald, Marius Zaliukas, Andy Webster and Andy Driver were coached by McGlynn prior to his departure from Tynecastle in 2006. David Templeton, who found it difficult to establish a place in the Hearts team under Paulo Sergio, will see McGlynn’s return as a chance to get his career back on track. Templeton had a productive loan spell at Raith in the second half of the 2008/9 season – scoring four goals in 15 appearances – and a return to the kind of form which saw Templeton nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award for the 2010/11 season would help to ease the loss of the likes of Rudi Skacel and Craig Beattie.
The major question for the Hearts fans will be whether McGlynn can handle the pressure that comes with managing the Tynecastle club. Increased media pressure and fan expectations following Raith’s surprising title challenge in the 2010/11 campaign were crucial factors behind the club’s deterioration in form which allowed Dunfermline to beat their local rivals to the title.
However, few, if any, believed that Raith would achieve more than a mid-table finish that year and McGlynn deserves credit for guiding the team to second place. As with any managerial appointment, a degree of risk would accompany the appointment of McGlynn due to his inexperience of managing a club the size of Hearts. But with the direction the club are taking, there may be few better suited to the job.
Written by Steven Ballantyne