Asking Craig Levein to give Daniel Stendel a tour of Hearts was ‘not strange’, insists Ann Budge as she warns players must leave to balance new manager’s January signings


ANN BUDGE insists she sees nothing ‘strange’ in Craig Levein being asked to give managerial successor Daniel Stendel a guided tour of Hearts.

Budge interviewed the German last month, before travelling to Ayrshire to take in Hearts’ 3-0 hammering from Kilmarnock.

With the football department staff all in attendance at Rugby Park, Budge asked Levein – sacked as head coach in October but still at the club carrying out work behind the scenes – to meet with Stendel.

Some have reacted with surprise that an axed boss would be asked to show around his likely replacement.

However, Budge, Hearts’ owner, chairwoman and chief executive, has defended the move.

Budge, who insists she has ‘documentation’ as evidence the Tynecastle club are not due Barnsley any compensation for Stendel, said: I don’t think that was strange, in that, when Daniel came over to be interviewed, it was on the day of the Kilmarnock game.

“So we did the interview on the morning and then the rest of us were all heading to Kilmarnock. So I said to Craig, ‘Craig, can you please show Daniel around Riccarton?’

“I couldn’t think of anyone better to do that than Craig. Even if I wasn’t going to Kilmarnock, I don’t know the ins and outs of Riccarton. I couldn’t have shown him round all the facilities.

“So I thought it was the obvious thing to do.

“As I have tried to convey before, yes we had to stop the situation with Craig being in charge of the team, but he is still immensely valuable to this club. He does lots of other things, and I don’t see why he can’t carry on doing that.

“Craig is totally supportive of whoever we bring in as new manager, and he has demonstrated that.”

Meanwhile, Budge – who has indicated that Levein and Austin MacPhee will share the likely duties of a ‘sporting director’ as she turns her attention to that appointment – admits Hearts blundered in allowing the first-team squad to become so bloated.

And the 71-year-old has confessed that players will have to be moved on to allow for the expected major overhaul of the team during the January transfer window.

Asked if the club made a mistake, she added: “Yes. We were ultra-cautious in the summer, where in the previous season we had had an unprecedented number of injuries and we didn’t have a strong enough squad to back that up.

“So, we were overly-cautious and we’ve got injuries again. Maybe instead of just getting one person we’ll get two and it kind of just escalated.

She added: “I’ve never failed to find the funds up until now. But, that said, we’ve never had such a big squad.

“And I’ve had this conversation with Daniel, but if he comes to me in January and says ‘I really must have whatever’, as long as he has told me ‘we really don’t need these people’ then we’ll be okay.

“But I’m not just adding to the squad we’ve got. It’s got to be a case of who is going to work and who isn’t going to work under the new style of play.

“If Daniel was to come to me tomorrow and say ‘players x, y and z will never work in my style of play’ then we will be saying ‘fine, how do we help move these players on’.

“What’s the point in them being here and sitting on the bench if we know they’re not going to be right?”