Tynecastle Turmoil: 'Judge us on our results,' pleads Roman

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The more celebrated Romanovs, of course, did not manage to stick around to witness the events of 1917 but will there be anyone left at Tynecastle to celebrate with Vladimir Romanov if his team achieve success? In the space of 10 days, Hearts fans lost their manager and their position at the top of the Scottish Premier League. George Burley's still-unexplained departure a fortnight ago was followed last Monday by those of Phil Anderton, the chief executive, and George Foulkes, the chairman. Foulkes, who introduced Romanov to Hearts a year ago when they needed a saviour, now describes him as a "dictator".

Tynecastle's cull has scared more than just the fans. Potential replacements for Burley have been dropping off like the Russian royal family all those years ago. Ottmar Hitzfeld, the former Bayern Munich manager, said "no thanks" on Friday. Even Sir Bobby Robson, the favourite for the job, admitted to unease because his negotiations had been with Anderton and Foulkes.

However, what really sent Tynecastle's stock plunging was the decision by Romanov, who is the majority shareholder and is about to embark on a buy-out of all the other shares, to appoint his son Roman to fill the jobs left by Anderton and Foulkes.

Roman is 30 and enjoyed a university education in the US but a resemblance to Rodney Trotter on Only Fools And Horses has not filled the Hearts supporters with optimism.

"Sometimes in order to progress it is necessary to take action that may seem unpalatable at the time," he said. "In the short term many people will ask 'why' but we ask our fans to judge us on the results that we are determined to bring to the club.

"We didn't come here to waste our time but to succeed you have to make drastic, difficult decisions. Employees will be judged on results and some will leave while others will remain. But I would say the fans really need to support not us as individuals but the team. The club has been here for over 100 years and will continue to be here."

It would be hard to embrace the Romanovs' claim that Burley and Anderton were not doing their jobs. One had taken his team to the top of the League, the other's marketing expertise had brought sell-outs for every home game this season.

"These things have not helped our morale," admitted top scorer Rudi Skacel, one of Burley's summer recruits. "However, we have to be professional. Our objective is still the same."

The Romanov horizons have changed, however. Roman scotched rumours that his father only wanted the club for a land deal and cash in on Edinburgh's lucrative property market, insisting that the Champions' League is their promised land. "Our goal is to have a winning team in Europe," he said. "We have already put up substantial finance but my father will certainly be spending many more millions to achieve that."