Robson is Hearts favourite

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The Independent Football

Robson was offered the job when it was vacant in the summer, and Anderton said last night: "If he'd wanted it then, he would've been our manager. But football changes quickly. We'll have to wait and see."

One sticking point for Robson might be a desire for greater autonomy in buying players than the club's owner, Vladimir Romanov, will guarantee.

Anderton will make it clear to all applicants that Romanov will have a significant say in that, although he will seek to assure all applicants that they alone would pick the team.

Hearts cited "irreconcilable differences" between Romanov and Burley as the reason for Burley's departure. Their uneasy relationship lasted for the first 10 games of the season, during which Burley led Hearts, unbeaten, to the top of the Scottish Premier League. But after a showdown on Friday, Burley left the club after only 114 days in charge. They won their 11th league game of the season without him to remain top.

Other candidates in the bookmakers' lists include veteran Italian coach Nevio Scala, Preston North End's Billy Davies, the former coach of Lithuania's Kaunas, Valdas Ivanauskas, and Motherwell's Terry Butcher.

Burley yesterday praised the "smashing group of players" he had left behind. He has already been linked to Aston Villa, Birmingham and the Republic of Ireland.