BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
PAUL HARTLEY has lambasted the ‘unfair’ expectations placed on managers in Scotland after returning to the game with Falkirk.
The former Celtic and Hearts favourite enjoyed a largely unimpeded rise in coaching with Alloa and Dundee, winning promotion in each of his first three campaigns in the dugout to cultivate a reputation as one of the most promising young bosses in the country.
However, he was axed by the Dens Park outfit in April on the back of seven successive defeats, the nadir of a season which never truly recovered from the sale of Greg Stewart and Kane Hemmings.
Peter Houston was also shown the door by the Bairns, with a Scottish Cup final and two consecutive second-placed finishes in the Championship during his tenure not enough to earn a stay of execution following a nightmare start to this term.
“The game now is totally unfair because of the expectations placed on managers,” said Hartley. “You don’t get time, you don’t get years – you have to hit the ground running.
“You learn when you come into the job that there’s so much pressure. You’re thrown into the deep end straight away.
“Management is just so unforgiving. When you see the number of managers who have lost their job it’s quite unfair.
“You always know that when you take a job there’s a possibility you might lose it. But there are rewards at the other end if you can get success and you have to relish that pressure.
“I know that my job here is to come and win, no matter what style. We’d like to play with style but it has to be a winning style first.”
Hartley’s departure from Dundee did afford him a period of respite from the crushing pressures of management, a six-month period he used to visit former club Celtic and observe the training sessions of Brendan Rodgers.
He also thanked Derek McInnes and Craig Brown as the management fraternity rallied around in his hour of need.
“It was good when Brendan invited me up to Lennoxtown,” he recalled. “I was reassured. I had a good chat with him and I also spoke to managers like Derek McInnes and Craig Brown. They have all been in this position before.
“It was reassuring, speaking to them and telling me that I will get back in. But you are never sure how long it will take. It could be a week, a month or a year. There are a lot of good managers who are out of work and desperate to get back into it.
“At least I’ve got good interview skills now! I did a PowerPoint presentation to show Falkirk what I am about and how I can deliver success. This is a new start for me and for the club and I hope the fans are as excited as me. Let’s get the season up and running.”
While Hartley’s appointment on a three-year deal was confirmed on Wednesday evening, he will watch today’s Irn-Bru Cup encounter against fierce rivals Dunfermline from the stand, allowing technical director Alex Smith to take charge.
Hartley will take the reins in effect on Monday and he is relishing the challenge of kick-starting a campaign which sees the Bairns languishing nine points adrift of the playoff places.
He added: “One thing I do have is that I know how to get the job done – from the third tier all the way to the Championship. I’ve got the experience of getting clubs promoted. I think that’s one of the things I’ve got in my favour. So I’ll be honest with the players, come in and tell them where we want to be.”