Goodbye Motherwell! Hello, eh, umm, Motherwell?
Silly season saga number one has ended as it began with Mark McGhee still manager of Motherwell, albeit with an enhanced salary, and Hearts still looking for the man to rebuild the Romanov dream.
Actually this saga hasn’t been confined to the silly season. McGhee came close to doing some kind of deal with Hearts in the winter at the same time as he was courting the Scotland job. The tragic death of Phil O’Donnell made leaving Motherwell impossible then.
Which leads us to where we are now. McGhee, one foot on a plane to Vilnius and a meeting with Vladimir, took a phone call from John Boyle and decided to stay.
Not anymore, he said, the younger McGhee jumping from club to club like a sailor on shore leave. Motherwell deserved some commitment and he was going to give them it. Although a cynic would say that, in the meantime, the threat of leaving has won him an improved contract. Which is true but it is still a long way short of what Hearts were offering so money was clearly not the only consideration.
An ultra cynic would say that McGhee has stayed to make it easier for him to accept the Celtic job when Strachan takes his leave later in the summer. But that, of course, is possibly no more than mindless tittle tattle.
But where are Hearts now? Managerless in the close season after being rudderless all season. Craig Levein is an option. Billy Davis too.
But, and much as the Romanov caucus at Tynecastle won’t countenance such argument, the same question still hangs over Gorgie. Does a manger need to sacrifice too much of himself to Romanov to consider taking the job?Craig Levein has become Eddie Thompson’s favoured son at Dundee United. He has been allowed to reshape the team and has a massive say in the off field direction the club is taking. A “sensational” “shocking” return to Tynecastle would seem unlikely.
Billy Davis is a stranger one. His career follows the path of an angry little man. There have been successes but there have been far more fall outs and walk outs. Maybe he feels he’s seen it all in football boardrooms now and will have no qualms about tackling the erratic Lithuanian. Or, more likely, he’ll hold out for a job in England.
So where do we go from here? Stevie Frail has auditioned for the job longer than most managers. But he’s failed to prove himself and would be unpopular with fans.
And the fans, as much as anyone, need the stability of an appointment sooner rather than later. They don’t have the stomach for a season like the one just passed. They would, I feel, prefer a familiar name to another Eastern European. For once the same old, dull names that crop in Scottish football would be a source of comfort.
And there is another, intriguing name. Jim Jefferies willingness to consider the Dunfermline job suggests that he has had enough of simply surviving at Kilmarnock. Could he, along with the prodigal son Steven Pressley, be persuaded to replicate the Smith – McCoist formula at Tynecastle?