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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 11:35 GMT
Chick Young's column

By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

Hearts are in the twilight zone. They have a lad called Roman in charge. So it's official, then: he is Roman in the gloamin'.

Oh come on, I've every reason to be wallowing in self-righteousness. All down the line, I asked fans of the club to stop and try to work out the agenda of Vladimir Romanov, but love was blind.

But that's not actually the emotion I feel in the wake of the latest outbreak of insanity at the Tynecastle madhouse. It's more like anger.

And concern too, for the long-term future of a Scottish football institution that has become the plaything of an absentee landlord who seems to think the operation that grafted a maroon and white scarf to his designer suit entitled him to the soul of the club.

Who is going to want to become part of Hearts now, as coach or as chief executive?

In fact, anyone who does shouldn't be allowed to take the job. Only lunatics break into asylums.

Vladimir Romanov kicks out at Tynecastle
It's ma' ba', Vladimir Romanov has proven at Hearts

At least George Foulkes, who took far too long to snap the string that made him Romanov's puppet, was genuine about his love for the club.

He was seduced by the instant gratification that the Lithuanian had to offer and couldn't see the price that would have to be paid.

Foulkes, a thoroughly nice man and as sincere as a politician could possibly be, danced to Romanov's tune.

But in the end, at least old George managed to salvage some of his own dignity.

The sacking of Phil Anderton is beyond belief. He is a sharp cookie, although he too was wooed by Romanov's revolution, aided of course by the persuasive ability of a handsome wage.

But surely they must have seen what was coming? Surely the exit of George Burley, who must have laughed his socks off when he heard the news that there had been further slamming of the front door behind him, must have set the alarm bells ringing?

All down the line, I warned that they should look to Dundee and what happened there when they were signing players way out of their price range.

The Dens Park club were always going to implode in the wake of Ivano Bonetti and, sorry though their current state may be, I actually feared for their very existence.

George Foulkes and Phil Anderton in happier times at Tynecastle
George Foulkes and Phil Anderton have both exited Hearts

There is a truism that a wise old friend once told me. If something looks too good to be true then it probably is.

Romanov isn't Santa Claus. He didn't kick a ball about the streets of the former Soviet Union dreaming of the day he would move to Auld Reekie.

In fact, he took custard pies from Dundee United and Dunfermline Athletic before deciding that Gorgie was where his heart really lay.

So where on earth do Hearts go from here? Winning the championship is the least of their problems. More important is the regaining of their dignity and their credibility.

In an interview granted to me last week, Romanov failed to directly answer any one of the questions that I put to him.

In fact, BBC viewers and listeners were offered a poem that was somewhere between Eric Cantona and Jim Leishman.

We might not understand his ways, but he, sure as hell, doesn't understand ours.

He promised Heart of Midlothian supporters the moon and the stars. But right now, the only thing he has convinced me of is that he is living on another planet.

Taxi to earth for Mr Romanov.

Chick Young's column
24 Oct 05 |  Scotland

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