I got back from a week in EuroDisney
on Saturday, only to discover that George Burley, Hearts manager for the past three months and credited at least partly with sending us to the top of the league, had resigned or been sacked that morning.
What's unclear though is what happened and who is to blame.
If the Observer is to be believed
, Burely had been in talks for a
fortnight with Aston Villa over replacing the Eire-bound David O'Leary. That would be my preferred version of the truth - Burley did the dirty on us, Vladimir Romanov (who we are stuck with) is blame-free and we can appoint someone else safe in the knowledge that Romanov won't go for a 'yes man' who will do exactly as he's told.
That said, everyone knew Burley and our mini-Abrahmovich CEO didn't always see eye-to-eye and that Burley objected to Romanov signing players without consulting him. But the fans could care less about that - neither manager nor owner have bought anyone less than excellent so far (and a couple - Skacel and Bednar - would grace the
English Premiership) and we are top of the league and playing with a flair I haven't seen in the 29 years I've been going to football matches at Tynecastle.
And when all's said and done, the only constant at any football club is the fans - it doesn't matter who's in charge, so long as we do well. Managers and chairmen come and go, the fans are ever-present and ever-concerned.
Which is why rumours abound up here regarding the real reason for Burley leaving. There's the 'he's off to Villa' one, the 'Burley is an auld drunk who turned up on Saturday pished' one, the 'he was told to play more Lithuanians so Romanov can sell the rights to Hearts games to Lithuanian TV' one and - most bizarre of all - the 'Burley was hit by a car on Friday night and is now in intesive care, expected to die' one (which turned up in all seriousness on several Hearts message-boards).
I don't suppose we'll ever know the truth, but given the timing (Burley quit/was sacked at 10am on the day of a match); the fact that Burley's mentor Sir Bobby is
still interested in the job presumably after speaking to Georgie Boy; and that our chairman (and genuine Hearts fan) Lord George Foulkes
has so far
continued to give Romanov his backing, I'm inclined to suspect that Burley had been in talks with someone in the Premiership and asked for permission to do so officially on Saturday morning at which point the Hearts' board told him to clear his desk and bog off (and more power to their elbow if that is the case).
Apart from our lofty league position, one positive legacy of the Burley-era is that Hearts' level of expectation is far higher in all things. Names being bandied about for our new manager include Sir Bobby Robson
, Graeme Souness
, Hector Cupar
and Claudio Ranieri
, the latter three of which wouldn't have been even breathed about without hilarity twelve weeks ago.
And not even the west coast red top media
has had the gall to suggest that our bubble has burst. Which makes a pleasant change.