BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
STEVE McCLAREN has dropped out of the race to become the next Hearts manager as the former England boss nears a money-spinning move to Israel.
The 56-year-old is on the verge of joining Maccabi Tel Aviv – bankrolled by Canadian billionaire Mitchell Goldhar – in a consultancy position and will work alongside the club’s Sporting Director Jordi Cruyff.
McClaren coached Cruyff during the 1999/00 campaign at Manchester United and the pair held talks over the weekend to thrash out a deal.
Maccabi’s English CEO, Ben Mansford, has previously been on the board at Barnsley and Leeds United and was keen to drive through the switch for the experienced coach, who led Middlesbrough to the UEFA Cup final in 2006 and had spells in charge of Newcastle United, Derby County and Nottingham Forest.
As the former FC Twente and Wolfsburg boss prepares to embark on another European adventure, it blows the battle for the Tynecastle hot-seat wide open, given McClaren was the previous favourite after applying for the vacancy.
Ex-Hearts stars Steven Pressley and Paul Hartley are understood to have been interviewed for the post, however Dougie Freedman – who has made no secret of his desire for the job – has been installed as the front-runner.
The likes of Owen Coyle, Aidy Boothroyd and Peter Houston have also been linked with the position, which is currently held by interim head coach Jon Daly, who guided the Jambos to a much-needed 1-0 win over Kilmarnock on Saturday.
And Daly will remain in charge for this weekend’s mouth-watering trip to face Rangers at Ibrox, with the prior commitments of owner Ann Budge ensuring she is unavailable to carry on the interview process this week.
A new boss could, however, be in place before Hearts’ encounter against Motherwell.