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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 3, 2006

'I'm in charge at Hearts', insists Ivanauskas

Valdas Ivanauskas, the new Hearts head coach, has assured players and fans he will have the final choice on team selection next season.

The Lithuanian, appointed at Tynecastle on a permanent basis on Friday, takes his squad to Austria today for a three-game pre-season tour with the full backing of majority owner Vladimir Romanov.

Although a host of high-profile candidates were linked with the Hearts job since last summer - including Lothar Matthaus, Claudio Ranieri and Alexi Mikhailichenko - Romanov opted to maintain the status quo in Gorgie by retaining Ivanauskas' services.

During a turbulent campaign which eventually saw Hearts lift the Scottish Cup and seal second spot in the Bank of Scotland Premier League to secure Champions League football, Romanov was often thought to be meddling in team affairs.

But Ivanauskas has insisted it will be him who calls the shots in the coming season.

He said: 'I'm in the position of head coach.

'There will be discussions about new players (with Romanov) but, similarly to last season, the last decision is going to be made by me.

'If Vladimir showed trust by giving me this position, then he obviously trusts me to decide finally who to play.'

Romanov has set Ivanauskas and assistant coach John McGlynn a daunting task for the coming year, simply to win the league title and reach the Champions League group stages.

The dual demands would be enough to strike fear into anyone but Ivanauskas is confident of rising to the challenge, even if he expects a tougher domestic scene than last term with the Old Firm and other clubs strengthening.

Ivanauskas, expected to confirm the final details of his contract with Romanov when he returns from Austria in 10 days, added: 'Before every season, if a team wants to achieve something and be winners it always needs to set the highest targets possible.

'The last season was exceptional for the team, the club and the fans. This season is going to be more difficult but the targets are set very high and everybody is working towards that.

'It's not just Rangers and Celtic strengthening, we're strengthening but, at the same time, our team is very good.

'You also shouldn't forget that there are other teams like Dundee United, Aberdeen and so on - the season is going to be a very interesting one.

'We have to stay together as a team and hopefully bring more success to the club.'