With the second coming of Jim Jeffries at Tynecastle getting off to a difficult start on Saturday, questions have to be asked already. Will Jeffries get the backing in the transfer market that has deserted every Hearts boss in the Romanov era other than George Burley? Will Romanov continue to interfere in team affairs, as he always has? Will Hearts finish in the top six, or be dragged further down the table as injuries and an over reliance upon the youth section at Riccarton take their toll?
Personally, I think that Jeffries will get some financial backing. He is a tried and tested manager at SPL level, and knows what it takes to do well in this league, and with this club. I also get the feeling that Jeffries was approached regarding the manager’s seat at Tynecastle days before Laszlo lost his job, which hints at a bit of belief in the new man from Vladimir Romanov.
There can be no doubt that Romanov will continue to interfere, whether he says he will or not. There is no escaping that fact, as the man does not seem to trust anyone with his most expensive of “toys”. I sincerely hope that he leaves Jeffries alone for long enough to see if he can make a decent fist of the season himself, but on past form, you’d have to say the chances of this actually happening over any extended period of time, far less any period of less than stunning results, are limited.
Hearts should be finishing in the top six of the SPL. The club’s recent capture of Darren Barr demonstrates that Tynecastle is still a desirable place for the best of the SPL to ply their trade, and is evidence of the pure financial clout that the Jambos still wield over their competitors such as Hibs and Aberdeen, both of whom were in the race for Barr’s signature. That being said, the extent to which this is a realistic possibility depends to a large extent upon the backing that Jim Jeffries receives, and also upon Romanov’s ability to keep his nose out of team affairs.
If the injuries that have dogged Hearts this season subside, the squad is still among the strongest in a poor SPL, and would be a lock for a top six finish with the addition of one or two strikers of the calibre that a club like Hearts deserves. Let’s face it, anyone would be better than Christian Nade!