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Stand-in role for Clark as Jordan is shown the door

James Traynor

4 May 1993

THE inevitable happened at Tynecastle yesterday when it was announced that Joe Jordan's reign as manager of Hearts was over, even though his contract does not expire until September 19.

A short statement confirmed Jordan's removal and Sandy Clark's elevation from coach to interim manager -- and it is expected he will be given the job on a permanent basis -- but it had been obvious for some time that all was not well within Wallace Mercer's club.

Jordan, who succeeded Alex MacDonald, now managing Airdrie, in September, 1990, was believed to have been on £100,000 a year, but he had grown disillusioned with the job and at the end of last year was openly critical when offered an extension to his contract.

Eventually the new deal was withdrawn and Jordan, who often has given the impression of being an idealist in a world which sometimes seems overrun by slick talkers and tricksters, must have known his days in Edinburgh were numbered.

It is highly possible that he would have moved on at the end of his contract in any case.

Any disappointment he may be feeling could turn to delight because he may well be the ideal managerial candidate in the eyes of Dundee United chairman Jim McLean, who is quitting the manager's office at Tannadice at the end of this season.

McLean seeks a top name as his replacement and Jordan fits that requirement.

Jordan, who was taken from his managerial post with Bristol City -- the Ashton Gate club claimed substantial compensation -- to revitalise Hearts, found it increasingly difficult and frustrating that he was expected to compete for honours with a thin squad and a limited budget.

Some managers are able to live with these restrictions, but Jordan, a former Leeds United, Manchester United, AC Milan, and Scotland internationalist striker, wanted assurances.

Hearts, in financial difficulties, obviously were not in a position to satisfy their manager, and a break-up was on the cards.

Saturday's 6-0 defeat by Falkirk, a further sign perhaps that manager and players were on different wavelengths, did not help foster an air of togetherness around Gorgie yesterday morning, although Jordan admitted he was surprised by the announcement.

"I am surprised by the decision, but only in its timing," he said.

"I had advised the chairman many, many months ago when he offered me an extension to my contract, which I rejected, that I wanted to know what the future held for the club before committing myself."

The 41-year-old added that the chairman, no doubt, would explain in more detail, but the chairman has been out of the country for something like five weeks and is not expected within the next fortnight.

However, Mercer has been in constant touch with his club from his second home in the south of France and it was his name on the bottom of yesterday's statement.

The day Jordan said he would sign for Hearts the chairman said: "I have put into his hands the closest thing to my heart." Yesterday, from afar, Mercer took it all away again and put Hearts into the control of Clark, who may well be given the job on a permanent basis at the end of the season.

Frank Connor will remain as assistant manager and Jordan said: "I'm delighted the directors have confirmed my faith in the backroom staff.

My successor will have something to build on because there are some good young players." The fact that Hearts lead the reserve league and that their youngsters won the BP Youth Cup last week tend to strengthen this claim.

"I regard my time at Hearts as having been successful with limited resources and having to sell to satisfy creditors.

My time spent here has been invaluable," he said.

Jordan has had to settle for taking in free signings and only occasionally was he allowed to buy.

His highest fee for a player, Ian Baird, was £350,000 and he had to accept the departure of Dave McPherson to Rangers for £1m.

He stressed that what happened yesterday will not diminish his passion for the game.

It is ironic that only a matter of months ago Jordan was being tipped for various other jobs.

Yesterday's development will not look good now on the CV but that still might not deter McLean, who knows all too well how difficult it can be to run a club on a shoe-string budget.

A methodical, well organised sort, these qualities will appeal to McLean but it might help if Jordan could lighten up a bit.

Communication is not one of his strong points as his departure from Tynecastle yesterday without saying goodbye to his staff might illustrate.

Jordan, it is widely thought, was not especially good at forming relationships with his players, something which MacDonald did remarkably well and perhaps Clark, if he is to get the best out of the staff and win the job for himself, will need to have a combination of both these managers' good points.

He will also need money.

A little miracle wouldn't go amiss, either.

Taken from the Herald

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