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Cove Rangers’ ambition a big lure for new boss Paul Hartley

Paul Hartley  during his time in charge at Dundee.
Paul Hartley during his time in charge at Dundee.

Paul Hartley says the ambition shown by Cove Rangers chairman Keith Moorhouse convinced him the League 2 side was the right place to start the next chapter of his career.

The 42-year-old, who has been out of work since being sacked by Falkirk last August, was managing in the top flight of Scottish football with Dundee a little more than two years ago.

But the former Scotland international is excited by the challenge ahead at Balmoral Stadium as the Highland League champions try to make their mark in the SPFL.

The club is gearing up for its maiden season in League 2 after defeating East Kilbride and Berwick Rangers to become the first Highland League club to make it through the SPFL pyramid play-offs.

Hartley, who has signed ia three-year deal and will take charge on a full-time basis, said: “I’m thankful to the chairman (Keith Moorhouse) for giving me the opportunity.

“It is a very ambitious club.

“We have a plan over the next five years which will probably remain private between the chairman and myself.

“You could see with the set-up here that it was geared towards getting in the league.

“Our aim is to keep improving year on year and improve the players.

“There won’t be a drastic change here in terms of players.

“If we make one or two additions then that would be great but I know I’m working with a good group of players.”

Hartley will be assisted by Gordon Young, who was Hartley’s assistant at Falkirk, and fitness coach Tam Ritchie.

He replaces co-managers John Sheran and Graeme Mathieson with Sheran, who suffered a heart attack in April, becoming director of football, while Mathieson and first team coach Roy McBain have left the club.

Hartley already knows the Cove squad well, having assisted with training ahead of the club’s SPFL pyramid play-off games while Sheran was recovering.

The former Celtic, Hearts and Aberdeen player said: “The good thing for me is I have worked with the players over the last couple of months. I was involved with the team at the end of the season at the play-offs so I know how much quality is in this squad.

“I enjoyed working with the players.

“It was great to be back involved as I have missed being on the training pitch with the players.

“Hopefully I helped the players when I was in with them.

“I already knew some of the guys from my time at Aberdeen as they were young kids coming through the system there.

“The fact I know the players is an advantage.

“We aren’t coming in here to make drastic changes, far from it.

“Sometimes when you come in as a new manager you feel you have to change 10 or 12 players, that won’t be the case.” Hartley, meanwhile, intends to talk to Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes with the hope of being able to bolster his squad with one or two young Dons on loan.

He said: “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 that loan market may help us.”

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