Ambition brought Hartley to Cove

Paul Hartley at the Balmoral Stadium
Picture by Jim Irvine
Paul Hartley at the Balmoral Stadium Picture by Jim Irvine

New boss Paul Hartley says the ambition of Cove Rangers attracted him to the club.

The former Aberdeen, Celtic, Hearts and Scotland midfielder has signed a three-year contract to take charge of the newly-promoted Granite City side, along with assistant manager Gordon Young and fitness coach Tam Ritchie.

Hartley has previously managed Alloa Athletic, Dundee and Falkirk.

After leaving the Bairns last August the 42-year-old is delighted to have returned to management with Cove ahead of their maiden season in League Two after promotion through the pyramid play-offs last term.

While the target in their debut SPFL campaign is just survival, in the long term the Balmoral Stadium outfit are looking to progress higher up the pyramid and it’s that challenge which has attracted Hartley.

He is replacing co-managers John Sheran and Graeme Mathieson, who guided Cove to long-awaited promotion.

Sheran has chosen to step away from the dugout and has become director of football after suffering a heart attack in April.

On his appointment, Hartley said: “You’ve always got something to prove and Falkirk was a tough gig for us.

“I made mistakes there but was I given enough time? I don’t think so.

“But you learn once you come out of the game, you think about what you could have done better. I’ve been given another opportunity and it’s one I’m hoping we can grasp.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve got that energy back again, it’s been a long 10 months out and you become frustrated, but you don’t become a bad manager overnight.

“The ambition from the chairman (Keith Moorhouse) is a big factor. We have a plan over the next five years which will remain private. The club is geared towards getting into the Scottish leagues with the set-up here.

“Myself, Gordon Young and Tam Ritchie have come in and our aim is to keep improving year-on-year and try to help and improve the players.

“There’s not going to be a drastic change in players here because I know what I’m working with. If we need one or two we’ll get that, but it’s not going to be a drastic change. Over the last five years it’s all been success for them and the big success was last season – getting promoted.

“They’ve done an outstanding job and a lot of hard work has gone into it from a lot of people.

“They’ve got some great players here so our job now is just to keep improving.”

Hartley is already familiar with Cove and their squad.

His partner is Sheran’s daughter Lisa and after John’s heart attack he helped Mathieson and coach Roy McBain at training in the build-up to pyramid play-off ties with East Kilbride and Berwick Rangers.

Hartley believes it will help him settle into his new role already knowing the players and also says he won’t make many changes to Cove’s promotion-winning squad.

He added: “I enjoyed working with the players and it gave me that feeling of being back involved and that’s what I’ve missed.

“I like being on the training pitch with the players and trying to help them.

“Hopefully I helped them along the way and some of the guys I already knew from Aberdeen when they were kids coming through.

“An advantage I have is that I know the players and we’re not coming in here to make drastic changes.

“Sometimes as a new manager you come in and you think you have to change 10 players or whatever, but that won’t be the case here.”

So far this summer Cove have signed former Montrose and Peterhead midfielder Jamie Redman, while defender Eric Watson and strikers Paul McManus and Jordan MacRae have departed.

In a bid to strengthen his squad Hartley says he will speak to former club Aberdeen about the possibility of getting some of the Dons’ young players on loan.

The new boss added: “I’d be stupid not to speak to Aberdeen and I’m hoping to speak to the manager this week.

“If we need one or two additions they are a club that can help us.

“The good thing with Aberdeen is they aren’t in the reserve league now so there is a pathway there for us to give players league experience.

“We’ll look at our group and see what we need because I know we’ve got a really strong group here.

“If we need one or two additions then that loan market may help us.”