BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
AUSTIN MacPHEE, Jon Daly and Liam Fox will take charge of Hearts ahead of their Premiership opener against Celtic following the dismissal of Ian Cathro.
The 31-year-old was relieved of his duties yesterday morning after the Tynecastle hierarchy, led by owner Ann Budge and director of football Craig Levein, came to the decision during a hastily arranged board meeting on Monday evening.
The 2-2 draw against Dunfermline which saw them crash out of the Betfred Cup, mere days after a humiliating defeat at League 2 outfit Peterhead, proved to be the final straw, with furious fans venting their fury at full-time.
Despite a miserable record of eight victories in 30 matches – only John McGlynn has an inferior win percentage – a Hearts statement confirmed that Cathro’s departure was “a very difficult decision, reluctantly made”, describing him as an “extremely talented young coach with a very bright future”.
No mention was made of Cathro’s assistant MacPhee, however he will remain at the club.
The 37-year-old is a popular figure among the players and, given he is also part of Michael O’Neill’s set-up with Northern Ireland, was key in securing the services of Kyle Lafferty, Aaron Hughes and Michael Smith.
MacPhee will work alongside former Cowdenbeath boss Fox and development squad manager Daly, with the trio charged with steadying the ship ahead of the trip to Celtic Park on Saturday.
Craig Levein will not take charge of the side against the Hoops.
Instead, Levein’s focus will be on finding Cathro’s successor, with increased pressure now on the director of football to pick the right man following the ill-fated reign of his young protege.
Former Jambos captain Steven Pressley and Paul Hartley, both currently unemployed, have been installed as early frontrunners for the post, while it is likely that Gary Naysmith – considered by the Hearts board during the last recruitment process – and Tommy Wright will be in the mix.