26 Oct Levein keeping his own house in order
Craig Levein admits his Hearts side have their own problems to focus on as they prepare to face troubled Rangers.
The Rangers board were meeting to discuss manager Pedro Caixinha’s future while Hearts were training ahead of Saturday’s meeting at Murrayfield.
Caixinha’s position was placed in doubt after Rangers followed up a League Cup semi-final defeat by Motherwell with a home draw against Kilmarnock, but Hearts are also licking their wounds after a midweek derby defeat by Hibernian.
Rangers have a number of injury and suspension issues but Levein is short of midfielders and struggled to find a balance at Easter Road, admitting that playing Connor Randall and Rafal Grzelak in the middle left them struggling to pass the ball. He brought on 16-year-old Harry Cochrane at half-time and remains with limited options.
“I played a couple of defensive players, not in positions they hadn’t played before, but out of position,” he said. “I felt a little bit for them, they struggled with the position they were asked to play and that’s my responsibility.
“It would have helped us if we’d had more midfield players available. It’s a problem. Arnaud Djoum, Don Cowie, Prince (Buaben) and Malaury Martin are all out. What we’ve got left is either defensive players or young kids.
“We just couldn’t get our forward players on the ball and I think that was down to the fact we couldn’t get any cohesion in midfield.”
Levein left Ibrox on Wednesday before Rangers capitulated in a dramatic period of stoppage-time that saw them miss a penalty, get Ryan Jack sent off and concede an equaliser. But he would have noted with interest the amount of chances Kilmarnock created in the final quarter of the game.
“I watched Rangers and a few things didn’t go their way,” he said. “That happens at times when you are feeling a little bit under strain. Being the manager of either Old Firm teams puts you under a fair bit of strain.
“We’ve got our problems. I know Pedro will have one or two problems injury-wise and possible suspensions, so I don’t think either of us are going into this game with our best team.”
When asked whether their opponents might be vulnerable, Levein said: “Rangers are Rangers, aren’t they? There’s always a thing about playing against Rangers. Our players will need to be at their best.
“We don’t have our own troubles to seek but I’m very confident we will put up a decent display. Certainly we will fight right through the match.”