The Scottish Cup bunting had barely come down last summer when the extent of the downsizing required at Tynecastle was laid bare. It was enough to deter Paulo Sergio from returning as manager, and many of the heroes from Hampden departed not long after.
The tap from Lithuania had been turned off and Hearts would have to survive financially on whatever few dribbles came their way. There would be little money to spend on the team and an increased reliance on fast-tracking players from the youth academy. And, for good measure, there were no guarantees of getting paid on time. It did not make for the most appealing of job adverts.
McGlynn, however, answered the call. He was perhaps not the most glamorous candidate to follow Sergio's charm offensive but McGlynn's credentials seemed to fit the bill. He had been manager of Raith Rovers for six years, a period in which he would regularly foster the development of Hearts' young players on loan. He had a good relationship with John Murray, the director of football, and had a feel for the club formed during a previous 10-year association that included two stints as caretaker manager.
He did not try to play down or make light of Hearts' precarious financial predicament, but nor did he use it regularly as an excuse. McGlynn was never as charismatic as his predecessor but, in the way he quietly went about his business, it was clear he had a real affinity for the club that enabled him to tolerate the sort of problems other managers likely would not. Upon his dismissal he stated it had been his "dream job" to manage Hearts. It was not difficult yesterday to feel a pang of sympathy for his plight.
The problem McGlynn faced was trying to maintain the success the Hearts brand – the history, the tradition, the stadium, the fans – demanded but with ever decreasing resources. It was an impossible situation. The supporters were understanding, to an extent, but there was still an expectation that the club should be competing at the top end of Scottish football, not scrambling around towards the foot of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
McGlynn would have been entitled to peer into a dressing room featuring more teenagers than the crowd at a pop concert and wonder just what he was meant to do with such a group. In many ways he overachieved by reaching the Scottish Communities League Cup final – and will now not get the chance to lead his team out against St Mirren in two weeks' time – but league results would eventually be his outdoing. Defeat in Paisley on Wednesday left Hearts second bottom and prompted the board to act. The official statement on his exit praised McGlynn's efforts but added that it was "now imperative we find the right man to take the transition forward."
It will be intriguing to discover who that man might be. Predictably, a list of Hearts legends were mentioned among the early candidates in idle chatter on social media and fans' messageboards. Little of the debate, however, revolved around just who would be bold or daft enough to agree to work under the sort of trying circumstances McGlynn had to endure.
The new man will take over a side in little danger of being relegated given the 15-point cushion over Dundee but events in Lithuania will continue to be a concern. Administrators are still picking through the bones of Vladimir Romanov's bank, Ukio Bankas, following its demise and the knock-on effects are still to be established. In the worst-case scenario, should Hearts go the same way and into administration, they would be deducted 18 points and fall to the foot of the table. Suddenly, Hearts would be scrapping for safety.
Even if that doesn't come to pass, and Hearts remain ensconced in the top division, McGlynn's successor will face a summer of uncertainty. Senior players will continue to be moved on to be replaced by younger and cheaper models. Danny Grainger has already been told his contract will not be renewed and others whose deals are expiring – including Marius Zaliukas, Andy Webster, Darren Barr and Arvydas Novikovas – will be made vastly reduced offers, if any at all. The transfer embargo will be lifted, although it is hard to see the new manager being given the funds to spend with wild abandon.
It all points to Hearts continuing to go down the road of relying on youth prospects, and with that the inconsistent performances they tend to deliver. Colin Cameron, Paul Hartley and Allan Johnston have all been linked with the vacancy, and all have a strong emotional bond with the club forged during their playing days. All three, however, have made promising starts to their managerial careers and may wonder, in private at least, whether the ongoing maelstrom at Tynecastle is the best environment in which to take the next step forward.
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