Inverness manager John Robertson has refused to rule out any interest in potentially replacing Daniel Stendel in the Tynecastle dugout this summer.
A clause in Stendel’s contract allows both the German and the club to terminate his deal should the Gorgie outfit be relegated from the Premiership.
Hearts, who are currently four points adrift at the basement, are facing that fate with the SPFL having the power to call the league as things stand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Robertson’s first spell as Hearts manager was brought to an end by then owner Vladimir Romanov in May 2005 before the club opted for George Burley ahead of their memorable and controversial 2005/06 campaign which saw them finish second and win the Scottish Cup.
The 55-year-old left his commercial and academy coaching role at Hearts to return to the Inverness dugout in June 2017 but the club’s all-time leading goal scorer has hinted he would have to consider any possible vacancy at his former employers if asked by Budge.
He said: “I love my life up here and my job is to get Inverness up, that’s my goal – and I’m looking forward to that until anyone tells me differently.
“People wax lyrical and say Hearts might be looking, they’ve got a manager at the moment, Daniel Stendel, who had a tough start to his job.
“He’s had terrific results against the top teams, beating Rangers twice at home and they won the Edinburgh derby. He’s done okay,
“I think the Hearts fans are maybe wanting more. He is bringing a completely different style to the game.
“You can never speculate, Hearts have a manager.
“With my experience now, do I think I could do a better job? Yeah, absolutely – but my job right now is Inverness and I don’t want to disrespect the Inverness fans and I don’t want to disrespect my boss or anybody else, my chairman (Ross Morrison).
“The fact is I’m totally focussed on that. It’s like anything else, you can never say never.”
Speaking to thelongestforty.com, he added: “Unfinished business (at Hearts)? There is something in me that says I could have done better then but I could do better now – but it’s neither here nor there.
“Ann Budge has got a million and one things to be dealing with at the moment.
“I’m not sure the league reconstruction thing will last much longer but Hearts are still in the Premierships as we speak and I’m sure if that changes Ann Budge’s stance will change, there is no doubt about that. She’ll fight her corner for the club.
“In football management you deliver what you can in the time you’ve got for the club you’re working for and right now I’m giving everything for Inverness.”
Robertson’s first spell at Hearts lasted only six months after he became the first managerial casualty of Romanov’s controversial reign.
However, Robertson has revealed that he has since learned that he was always going to be a stopgap in the dugout amid the change in ownership.
He added: “What I didn’t know was the the club were within days of going from Chris Robinson to Vladimir Romanov and I took the chance.
“I got a phone call from a high figure in Scottish football who was at another club at the time asking what my exit strategy was.
“I’ve known this guy since I was at school. He said: ‘John, I’m telling you right now – Hearts have already got a new manager in place for next season. He is an English-based manager’.
“What I didn’t know at the time, I was told eventually a while later that Chris Robinson was asked to bring in a Hearts manager to see them until the end of the season and that the new owners were going to bring in their own man.
“When I look back at that time I thought we were reasonably successful, we finished fifth and I left with four games to go.
“We got to the Scottish Cup and League Cup semi-finals, we had a good win in Europe (away to Basel) and a good win at Celtic Park.
“It wasn’t to be, I didn’t fall out with Vladimir Romanov or Sergejus Fedotovas (Romanov’s right hand man) but I was disappointed and I felt I was let down a bit, I felt I deserved a bit longer.”