Levein in last chance saloon

CRAIG LEVEIN by Peter Martin

The announcement of Craig Levein as the new Hearts manager is a sensible move by Ann Budge. It puts the man she trusts in the hot seat, offers Levein a last chance to re-address the manager with no striker perception and also allows the Hearts chairwoman to completely bullet him from the building if it all goes pear-shaped.

The director of football hovering in the stands and passing messages down to the novice didn’t go down well in Scottish football circles. Levein’s presence always seemed to provide the media with a stick to beat him with regarding his influence on the manager.

Maybe, we are not ready to accept this ‘man in the stands’ in Scotland as well as some clubs in England and across Europe seem to be able to do.

One things for certain, Craig Levein will be a marked improvement on Ian Cathro, whether it will be enough to satisfy the Hearts fans is another matter.

Levein seems to be a fairly divisive character in our game. The stain of Scotland playing with no strikers against the Czech Republic in 2010 has followed him everywhere for the last seven years.

It’s a system that works well if you have Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta in the midfield, but not Fletcher, Dorrans, Morrison, Mackie and Naismith.

If you can look beyond your like or dislike for him and look at his record for Hearts, it was successful under trying circumstances. Two 3rd place finishes with European qualification in a league dominated by strong Celtic and Rangers teams was good going. Let’s not forget he had the madness of Vladimir Romanov to deal with too.

He has inherited a good squad and he also has the ideal formation that I always associate with Levein from Hearts to Leicester and Dundee United. The new manager loves a tall striker with someone playing just off him. Mark de Vries must surely be thinking of making a comeback!

Personally, I thought Levein was a great player and I always liked him as a person. The passage of time and his record as a manager leads me to believe he’s landed on his feet meeting Ann Budge and winning her confidence.

I don’t believe anyone in England would’ve touched him with a bargepole for a job after his Leicester failure and he wasn’t being quoted up here after the Scotland fiasco.

This is his last chance saloon and the buck stops firmly at his door. I wish him well.

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