BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
JON DALY admits his hopes of landing the Hearts job on a permanent basis have been boosted by several high-profile candidates dropping out of the running.
The 34-year-old was seen as a rank outsider for the post when he was named interim head coach following the departure of Ian Cathro at the start of the month.
However, the rookie boss has impressed during his time in the dugout, leading the Jambos to a 1-0 victory against Kilmarnock – their first away win in Premiership since February – and a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Rangers at Ibrox.
Allied with former England boss Steve McClaren and Dougie Freedman withdrawing their interest to take up roles at Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Crystal Palace respectively, Daly is an increasingly legitimate option for the capital club.
While the likes of Steven Pressley and Paul Hartley remain in the frame, a win against Motherwell at Fir Park tomorrow will further bolster Daly’s case.
He smiled: “People have dropped out, some have got jobs, some have just withdrawn their names – it shortens your odds, doesn’t it.
“That’s football I suppose. That’s what happens when there is a job available, you get high calibre names coming in and some will naturally go on to take other high profile jobs.
“I am just enjoying the whole day to day, dealing with training and dealing with players. It’s something that hopefully – whether it’s now, or in the future – I get an opportunity to do.
“Hearts appointed a rookie manager in Robbie Neilson and it worked really well. I don’t see why it can’t work again.”
Billy Davies also ruled himself out of contention in explosive fashion, aiming a withering blast at Hearts’ management structure, which is headed up by director of football Craig Levein.
In a statement released by his representatives this week, the former Derby and Nottingham Forest manager said: “I spoke to Hearts, looked at their structure and gave them a clear plan on how to alter it to improve the club. It appears they are not ready to make the internal changes required to achieve greater success. It seems to me they just want to change the figure head.”
Daly has launched a passionate defence of the Jambos’ framework, insisting it was what inspired him to hang up his boots and begin his coaching career.
The straight-talking Irishman continued: “Billy’s had an interview and I’m sure he’s had the structure explained to him. He obviously likes working with a different structure, so he’s entitled to his opinion.
“But it’s a structure that, in my opinion, is very good. It’s geared towards helping younger coaches and also younger players come through into the first team.
“The main reason I retired from football was to come into that structure. I would probably have played on for another couple of years if I hadn’t been offered this opportunity. I don’t think I would have taken a coaching role at that stage of my career had it been anywhere else other than Hearts.
“The model of the club was set in place after they’d come through a very difficult period and it’s something that has worked previously. So I don’t see why, after a difficult seven or eight months, they should change that.”
Meanwhile, Daly has confirmed that Hearts have agreed terms with former Burton Albion goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin.
The 29-year-old, who made close to 150 appearances for the Brewers and also turned out for Bradford City, has been on trial throughout this week and has done enough to earn a deal, with his arrival set to be confirmed today.
McLaughlin will be available to face the Steelmen on Saturday and will compete with Jack Hamilton, who lost his place as third-choice keeper in the Scotland squad to Jordan Archer in Gordon Strachan’s latest squad, for the the gloves.
Daly added: “We’re very happy with Jon, he’s come up and trained with us and impressed. He has played at a very good level down south.
“So, as a coaching staff, we are very happy. It’s a coup to get him. Unfortunately for Jon – but fortunately for us – he had a little injury towards the end of the season. He was doing well at the time but then the team moved in a different direction so I think that injury to him has given us the opportunity to get him up the road.”