McGhee has no regrets over Hearts job snub
MOTHERWELL manager Mark McGhee is not one for looking back in anger, despite his tongue-in-cheek comments last week about the Rangers EBT scheme costing him a runners-up bonus.
That’s why when he casts his mind back to the moment he famously decided not to board a plane to Lithuania to discuss taking over at Hearts in favour of remaining at Motherwell, he is still sure to this day that he made the right call.
Despite the current opposing trajectories of the struggling Fir Park side, where he is now back in charge, and the high-flying Tynecastle men who they will take on in Lanarkshire on Saturday, he stands by his choice back in 2008 and the reasons behind it – even though he is sure he could have worked with Vladimir Romanov.
He said: “I don’t really think about what would have happened had I got on that plane.
“I don’t think you can look back. I stayed at Motherwell, had another great year here and enjoyed myself.
“It was the right decision and it wasn’t just about football. It was a personal decision too as Maria was about to have our baby, Archie. I needed to be there for them that summer and I knew I’d be charging around Europe on behalf of Hearts if I’d taken the job.
“There were all sorts of things going on that made it right for me not to take it. It was a job I would have loved to have been able to take. Hearts are a great club and I think I would have enjoyed it. But at the time, it was the right decision for me to stay at Motherwell.
“I think I’d have got on fine with Vladimir. I met him a few times and got on fine with him. I didn’t knock back the job because of him. I didn’t take it because of John Boyle and for those personal reasons.
“I don’t know what happened under Vladimir after that so I can’t really comment. All I know is that things changed. But Vladimir definitely wasn’t a factor in me not taking the job.
“How does Les (Hutchison) compare to him? They are different. Vlad speaks better English!”
If McGhee was under any illusions about the scale of the task he has in trying to perform the kind of Lazarus-style resurrection with this Motherwell squad he has inherited from Ian Baraclough as he performed on Maurice Malpas’s class of 2007, then they were roundly put to bed with the 3-0 thumping at Ross County last weekend.
He says though that with experienced players returning from suspension and injury, Motherwell are better-equipped for the challenge this Saturday.
He admitted: “It’s a relief to have them back. Hammy (Stevie Hammell) and Las (Keith Lasley) came through an under-20s game in midweek and Stephen McManus is back from suspension.
“Those three have hundreds of games under their belt and that is something we lacked against Ross County.
“I wasn’t really scathing about the performance last week and I didn’t mean to be. I was just being honest.
“The players showed what they are – inexperienced lads. For example, the two centre halves need someone like Stephen McManus to play beside them to bring them on.
“I didn’t want to pretend there were a lot of positives. Ross County deserved to beat us and I was accepting that.
“Nothing happened that I didn’t know could happen, given the way the team was.
“We still have a lot of hard work to do. I wasn’t brought here because things were going well. I was brought here because they aren’t going well. Normally that’s what happens when you get a job – but I have a clear picture of what I need to do. I know what the owner expects and what the vision is in terms of developing young players.
“We aren’t in any panic. We want to the get the squad right and then look at where our expectations lie. I have a clear idea of the squad.
“I know them intimately now – strengths and weaknesses. I have a fair idea who I think is going to benefit us in the long run and who isn’t.
“I know where I will have to make the changes, but I can’t do that tomorrow. Players have contracts, teams need to want to take them, I need to find replacements – there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Hearts are a great club and I think I would have enjoyed it. But at the time, it was the right decision for me to stay at Motherwell
NO CHANGE OF HEART: Mark McGhee is certain he made the right decision not to take Tynecastle job