First Team

Plenty of positives

9th September 2017

Craig Levein disappointed not to get win performance merited, but happy with progress.

Craig Levein returned to the Hearts dugout for the first time in nearly 13 years as Hearts dominated Aberdeen, but failed to find a breakthrough in front of a bumper crowd at BT Murrayfield.

24,248 fans witnessed the first Scottish league match to take place at the home of Scottish rugby, and only an inspired performance from Aberdeen keeper Joe Lewis prevented Hearts from taking all three points.

The former Scotland manager confessed his overarching emotions were that of disappointment, despite a terrific performance, but noted that he’d feel more positive once the emotions of the day had worn off.

“Once I get over the disappointment of not winning the match, I’ll be able to focus on the positives that we can build on,” said Craig. “I honestly feel a bit robbed, but enormous credit to Aberdeen and to Joe Lewis today. 

“I can’t even blame our strikers for not hitting the target enough, because they did. Sometimes, it’s Aberdeen’s forward players who get all the attention, but at times it felt like the keeper kept us singlehandedly at bay.

“Three points would have really pushed us on, but I’m sure when I look at the match in the cold light of tomorrow, I’ll feel really good about the positives. Right now, though, I’m just disappointed.

“We’ve got a wee bit to go until our next game here, so we won’t have all the nice facilities like we’ve had this week and we need to prepare for that, but everyone in training has worked really well, and taken it onto the pitch, so I can have no complaints.”

When asked how he felt about his return to management for the first time in almost five years after leaving the Scotland post, Craig stated that he was ‘lacking match sharpness’ but felt that a few more weeks on the training ground would fix that.

“I’m not as clearheaded after the match as I’d like to be,” he admitted, “But in another two or three games, I’ll feel more like it. It’s a little bit like when you’re a player and you lack match fitness. My bad knee was playing up with the size of the technical area too!”

Lastly, the manager praised the new signings making their debuts today, with deadline day acquisition Ross Callachan earning the man of the match away on his first appearance for his boyhood favourites, alongside keeper Jon McLaughlin and attacker David Milinkovic.

“Jon was calm, and took up great starting positions and he did well. David gave us something different in the final third, and Ross Callachan played like a lifelong Hearts fan making his debut. I thought he was fantastic."