Hearts are in the process of re-building themselves back to the sort of club that they want to be again, and both on and off the pitch it seems like they are having great success and will be back to the place they feel they belong in Scottish football once again very soon.
Of course, when Lithuanian tycoon Vladimir Romanov took over at Tynecastle back in 2004-05, there was talk of a Romanov Revolution in Scottish football. Going from a financially uncertain time where even Tynecastle might have been up for sale to balance the books, Romanov was welcomed with open arms with his promises of huge cash injections to help Hearts challenge the dominance of Celtic and Rangers.
After taking third place two years on the spin they went one better in 2005-06 and became the first side to split the Old Firm in over a decade. They also managed to win the Scottish Cup, although they were taken to penalties by Scotland’s Icarus team Gretna, who flew too close to the sun only a few years later themselves although with a much more unhappy ending than there’s been for Hearts. Even then there were signs of trouble at the club though.
Hearts’ flying start to the season was curtailed slightly when George Burley, who had managed the club since Romanov’s takeover, abruptly resigned in October citing “irreconcilable differences”; with the considerable influence of Romanov in day-to-day managing of the team rumoured to be the problem. Burley’s replacement Graham Rix was himself fired in the following March as he complained that Romanov was taking control even so far as picking the team.
Hearts appeared in the qualifying stages of the Champions League the next season, but couldn’t make it to the lucrative Group Stages and eventually crashed out of the UEFA Cup and never recovered the sort of form they had in Romanov’s honeymoon period.
A combination of Romanov’s erratic nature and the global financial crisis is what turned Hearts into a tailspin from which they are just recovering.
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