Date:Thursday June 26 2008
Our look at Hearts managers from the past 25 years continues today with an examination of former Scotland and Manchester United striker Joe Jordan's spell at the club in the early '90s.
Jordan came to Hearts with a strong reputation as one of the most promising young managers in the UK as we took a step into the '90s. He talked a good game too, with Wallace Mercer declaring that the former Scotland striker, whose toothless grin was almost as famous as his goalscoring exploits, had an ultimate goal of managing Manchester United. This level of ambition split opinion amongst the Hearts support at the time - many liked the sound of such confidence coming from someone associated with Hearts, whereas others didn't like the idea of their club being seen simply as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
However after breaking himself in gently at the tail end of the 1990/'91 season, Jordan was to stamp his mark all over the Hearts first team in the subsequent summer. During this time several new faces were brought in, many from England's lower leagues where Jordan had acquired most of his managerial experience. Such decorated footballing names as John Millar, Steve Penney and John Sharples were added to the squad, but the big summer signing was centre-forward Ian Baird, who came from Southampton for a fee of £350,000. It was hoped that Baird's bustling qualities could help to complement the dynamic but miniscule duo of John Robertson and Scott Crabbe, who had done well in the previous couple of years but clearly lacked physical presence alongside them.
Jordan also dramatically changed the way that the Hearts players approached each match, with 'tactically aware' becoming the new buzz phrase around Tynecastle. Some players initially looked to significantly benefit from Jordan's coaching, with the likes of Scott Crabbe and Derek Ferguson in particular excelling in the early part of his tenure.
However not all of the playing squad were overly impressed with Jordan's methods. Gary Mackay for example, a player who would always be willing to play for Hearts regardless of the circumstances due to his considerable passion for the club , was forced to play in an unfamiliar right-back role, which only served to further stifle his natural attacking instincts. Mackay had been a player who had promised to deliver so much during the Alex MacDonald era, but since his spell as club captain his influence on matches had been gradually diminishing over the years, and once Jordan moved him even further away from his best natural position, his career suffered even more in my opinion, even if he did an admirable job at right-back when asked to play there.
However for the most part in the early days, Jordan's Hearts functioned effectively, and during his first full season they made a serious challenge for the SPL championship, going neck-and-neck with a very strong Rangers side until well into March 1992. Indeed if it hadn't been for a confidence-shattering 4-0 hammering by Aberdeen at Tynecastle in February of that year, they may well have taken their challenge into May. But in the end the bubble had burst and they were left to battle it out for second place, which was a fight that they eventually won on the last day of the season after great rivals Hibs recorded a victory at Parkhead.
So....an impressive start for Jordan - 2nd spot in the SPL and only missing out on the Scottish Cup final after a penalty shoot-out defeat against Airdrie (which we won't go into!). However things soon started to go pear-shaped, and many of the alleged rumblings of discontent within the playing squad started to boil over. Controversial decisions had been made the season before (e.g. Mackay) and yet more were taken as fans' favourite Scott Crabbe was offloaded to Dundee United. This wouldn't have been so bad if his replacement hadn't been.......er.......Allan Preston! Talk about an insult.
Jordan's 'reserved' style of football was also exposed as 'boring' in the following season, as opposed to the 'tactical awareness' of the previous season. Basically what had happened is that the other sides in the league had sussed out the style of play that Hearts had been adopting, and were therefore able to prevent them from grinding out the single-goal victories that had served them so well in the previous campaign.
Therefore now that results were poor, the style of play had become much more of a focal point for the fans, and frankly people just didn't approve. Some of the signings that Jordan had made since the previous year were uninspiring to say the least too, and while Ian Ferguson and to a lesser extent Glynn Snodin (who scored a memorable free-kick winner at Tynecastle against Slavia Prague in Europe) had acquitted themselves reasonably well, Ally Mauchlen most certainly hadn't, and Graeme Hogg was clearly not in the same class as the centre-halves we'd been used to.
As for Ian Baird, he had become a bit of a 'boo-boy' with the fans, which when I think about it now was probably an indirect slight on his manager more than the player himself, who had done a a decent if not spectacular job for Hearts. He was Jordan's 'flagship' signing, and as the style of football deteriorated, results continued to disappoint and yet more murmurings of discontent within the Tynecastle dressing room were leaked to the press, Baird found himself being the scapegoat for everything that was going wrong at the club. It was harsh, but clearly the fans had to make their feelings known in one way or another, and sadly for Baird this was it.
All was far from well at Tynecastle, and the final straw came when Jordan's side capitulated 6-0 to Falkirk at Brockville, a match that saw the 'legendary' Crawford Baptie (now there's a name!) scoring twice. It's more than popular belief that the 'Tynecastle Mafia' (as Jordan described them) had conspired to deliberately lose the match in this manner to ensure that he'd soon be on his way, and regardless of whether or not you believe this, Jordan and Hearts did indeed part ways soon after this public humiliation.
It was a pity that Jordan's reign ended in such a way, especially as there had been so many positive signs in the early days of his tenure. However despite his obvious tactical nous and considerable knowledge of the game, the main problem with Jordan seemed to be his attitude. Having since spoken to several players who were at Hearts during that time, it seems that his arrogance was considerable, and perhaps in a similar way to when Glenn Hoddle was manager of England, he simply lost the respect of his players by making out that he was better than everyone. It therefore was a good thing that he left when he did, as frankly Hearts (and any other club for that matter) could do without a character like this in the dressing room.
To follow.....Sandy Clark
Date:Thursday June 26 2008
Hearts Snatch Point In Dramatic Edinburgh Derby (Sunday April 3 2011)
Remember THAT transfer window ? (pt 1) (Monday February 7 2011)
Hearts - Saints Player Ratings (Sunday January 30 2011)
Hearts should use Chick Young as motivation !! (Friday January 28 2011)
Hearts 1-0 Rangers - Player Ratings (Sunday January 23 2011)
Who should Hearts try to sign ? (Wednesday January 12 2011)
Hearts lead SPL sceptics ? (Wednesday January 5 2011)
Hearts icons of ... the 1980s (part 2) (Tuesday December 7 2010)
Hearts icons of .... the 1980s (part 1) (Thursday December 2 2010)
Scottish football - a mad upside-down world (Saturday November 27 2010)
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