Sun, Oct 29, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Hearts skipper speaks out on dressing-room unrest

ROMANOV EMPIRE After yet another manager was relieved of his duties by owner Vladimir Romanov, captain Steven Pressley took some surprising action


Hearts captain Steven Pressley on Friday revealed widespread unrest in the Scottish team's dressing room following two years of managerial upheaval.

A planned news conference with caretaker coach Eduard Malofeev was scrapped while Pressley, flanked by team mates Craig Gordon and Paul Hartley, read out a statement.

"Morale, understandably, is not good and there is significant unrest in the dressing room," Pressley said, reading from the statement after training.

The extraordinary move follows repeated interference in team selection by Lithuanian owner Vladimir Romanov and comes just days after manager Valdas Ivanauskas announced he was taking two weeks' rest for health reasons.

"I have tried, along with the coaching staff and certain colleagues, to implement the correct values and discipline but it has become an impossible task," the statement said. "There is only so much coaching staff, a captain and certain colleagues can do without the full backing, direction and coherence of the manager and those running the football club. The last two years have been testing for the players and together they have faced a number of challenges."

Fraser Wishart, the head of the Scottish players union, sided with Pressley and his teammates.

"Under extremely difficult circumstances, they have managed to continue to be successful on the field of play," he said. "It is clear, however, following recent events the players feel that stability at the club and a clear strategy with regard to the way forward at the club is now necessary."

The BBC reported on its Web site that Romanov had threatened to sell all the players if they failed to beat Dunfermline on Saturday.

The BBC said Romanov would move players "to Kilmarnock or whatever club will take them" and then play a team of youngsters against Celtic next weekend.

Former manager George Burley left last October while the club topped the Scottish Premier League amid reports of a bust-up with Romanov trying to pick the team.

His replacement Graham Rix was sacked after it emerged he told the players he no longer chose the team. He was replaced by Ivanauskas.

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