HEARTS have made remarkable progress on and off the pitch since being rescued from Vladimir Romanov’s sinking submarine in 2014.
There was the short term pain of relegation with a team of kids whilst Ann Budge, along with fellow Jambos, completed her takeover but the club have risen to being one of the top sides again after romping the Championship then a comfortable third in their first season back in the top flight.
Whilst Budge has stabilised the club off the pitch, Robbie Neilson has overseen the transformation where it ultimately matters, on the pitch, therefore it is no surprise that his name will be linked to various jobs in England.
League One side MK Dons, smarting from being knocked back by Steven Gerrard, have identified the Hearts Head Coach as their man to succeed Karl Robinson.
What is intriguing about this story is that both clubs have released statements confirming that talks will commence after tonight’s match against Rangers at Tynecastle, which adds fuel to the fire that the former fullback will take his place in the Home dugout for the last time.
Ahead of such an important fixture between two sides who, along with Aberdeen, are battling for second place in the table, the timing of the move could not be worse for the Jambos. The Tynecastle faithful will be praying that the players don’t get too unsettled by the speculation and focus on the job at hand of getting a result against the Ibrox men.
After the game, Neilson has a big decision to make on whether or not to make the move to England, something he needs to look at long and hard before he commits to the next chapter in his career.
He only needs to look at the example of a former manager across the capital. Alan Stubbs reward for delivering Hibs first Scottish Cup since Hampden was built was landing the managers job at Rotherham. He attempted to justify his move by talking up the Yorkshire clubs ambitions for Premier League football as a selling point to him being lured south of the border.
Unfortunately for Stubbs, he lasted four months and became the fourth manager in little over a year to lose his job at the Championship strugglers. With hindsight, he was far too hasty leaving the Hibees when it was clear as daylight he wasn’t ready to move given that he’d failed in his primary objective to get the Easter Road side promoted, the famous Cup win masked those failings.
Neilson needs to consider that kind of scenario before he jumps. Yes he’ll earn more money but he is joining a club who are on the decline and who get an average of 5,000 less than Tynecastle, which is packed out every week and now expanding with the redevelopment of its main stand.
Hearts also boast one of the best Youth Academies in Scotland and there is the potential to win trophies, gain regular European football and have a good opportunity to finish second this season, something that would be a major achievement given the dark period of season 2013/14 that saw them relegated and close to liquidation.
Neilson would be better off staying at Hearts and build his growing reputation as one of the best young managers in Scotland before earning a potentially bigger move than MK Dons. With the Championship managerial merry go round in overdrive, so far a third of the League changing managers at least once already, there will be bigger jobs available than a declining League One side.
Hearts fans will be hoping that Robbie Neilson thinks twice and sees that there is more potential in his current role, working with Craig Levein, and continue the good work he’s been doing these last two and a half years.