Levein commits ultimate Sporting Director no-no

This article was originally published on the Training Ground Guru. 

In making himself manager at Hearts, Craig Levein did something no Sporting Director should do, argues Dr Dan Parnell from Manchester Metropolitan University.

TWO of the key hurdles in developing the Sporting Director/ Director of Football role in Britain have been understanding and trust.

Some head coaches and managers have been sceptical, seeing the Sporting Director as a manager in waiting. The situation with Craig Levein at Hearts will not have helped this perception, to put it mildly.

To recap, Ian Cathro was sacked as the club’s manager before the start of the season, having had just eight months in charge.


The man who appointed him, Levein, then undertook a recruitment process for prospective candidates, picking and unpicking their strategies, tactics, evaluation of the team’s problems and plans for the future.

He also may have developed and enhanced his own strategy. It has already been reported that Steven Pressley, Dougie Freedman, Paul Hartley, Billy Davies and caretaker Jon Daly were interviewed for the job.

Afterwards, Levein – a man who has been out of management for almost five years (and out of club management for almost eight) – was able to go back to the board and say, ‘we have found no-one, but (in the words of Private Baldrick) I have a cunning plan.’

READ MORE: In defence of the Sporting Director

This involved him taking on the manager’s job in addition to his own. As outlined previously on this site, the Sporting Director’s job is to find the best people for the job and to help them to be as successful as possible.


The role emerged primarily to allow the manager or coach to focus on his role. In my view, any Sporting Director who takes a manager’s position is either uninformed, ill-equipped or has harboured an intention to be the manager.


If it’s any of these three reasons, then this person should not have become a Sporting Director in the first place. Hopefully, Levein can communicate the full process and rationale that has taken place at Hearts.

Because this is not a criticism of him as a person. After all, he wants to do the best he can and to survive at the club. But, unknowingly, he has hampered the Sporting Director movement and could do Hearts a disservice as well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s