Highland farce

The quietest take-over of the close season took place at Hearts of Midloathian. While Malcolm Glazier grabbed the headlines at Old Trafford, and Roman Abramovich’s spending spree continued at Stamford Bridge, Vladimir Romanov assumed control at the Scottish SPL club without attracting too much attention. All seemed well with the Lithuanian multi-millionaire banker until last week. Hearts, unbeaten, and sitting pretty at the top of the premier division, clear of traditional power houses Celtic and Rangers, suddenly found themselves without a manager. The highly successful George Burley walked out quoting “irreconcilable differences” with the new owner. A game was lost. Chief executive Phil Anderton was sacked, club chairman George Foulkes followed in sympathy. Both roles are now filled by Roman Romanov, son of the new Tynecastle oligarch. Ex-Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri, former Dortmund and Bayern supremo Ottmar Hitzfeld, and the legendary Bobby Robson, now 72, were all contracted – and declined politely. While all this went on, former Hearts idol John Robertson resigned very quietly from his job in the Scottish first division. It appears that bandying about big names may be nothing more than a smokescreen, preparing the return of Robertson once the dust has settled. Whatever happens, this could turn out to be a serious case of having your cake and choking on it.