Trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Edinburgh in their Europa Conference League play-off to their Greek opponents, Hearts were outclassed 4-0 at Toumba Stadium and lost 6-1 on aggregate. The defeat, however, could spark a change in the coaching hierarchy at the club. Following the departure of Robbie Neilson has manager in April, Steven Naismith was caretaker until the end of the 2022/23 season. However, McAvoy was given the head coach position in June, with Naismith named as technical director as he does not hold the required UEFA Pro Licence to manage in UEFA matches. But with Hearts now free of continental commitments, they may make changes once again.
“It’s a good question, but that’s not for me to answer, it will be down to the people above me,” said McAvoy on the chances of Naismith being promoted back to head coach. “There’s the possibility that could happen, but that’s obviously down to the powers above me.”
McAvoy lamented the poor defending that allowed PAOK to score four goals without reply. “The first goal is poor from our point of view,” he said. “The boy is in an offside position but he manages to come back onside and VAR gives the goal. Our defending for the second goal is pretty poor as well. We changed the shape in the second half to become more aggressive and get the wing-backs forward. The next goal is crucial and if we get it it’s game on. That’s what we tried to do but we were punished by a poor defensive goal from our point of view.”