Craig Levein: Never mind treble treble, Hearts want single single

Craig Levein has warned Celtic that while they are looking to close out an historic treble treble tomorrow his Hearts players are driven by targets of their own.

Hearts manager Craig Levein with Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Hearts manager Craig Levein with Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

While they may not appear as lofty as their rivals’, he insists that, to them, they are just as significant.

“We’ve got a single single to go for, eh?” said the Hearts manager. “That’s really important to us. People expect Celtic to win because they’re such strong favourites but we have a good enough recent history against Celtic not to feel intimidated in any way.

“When we play well we can be really good and I’m confident we’ll have just about everybody back and available for the final.”

A victory over the champions at the start of the season has given Hearts hope that, despite their winless post-split run, they have the ability to raise their game to the necessary level and give the season the positive twist it requires for him to consider it a success.

Asked if a top-six finish and a cup final appearance amounted to a good season, Levein said: “Not for me. But winning the cup and a top-six finish is a good season. We are here and we know it is difficult to get to a cup final but to get here, with, in my eyes, a live chance of winning the cup, is a great position to be in. We plan to win the game, that is our plan.”

Levein has endured criticism from a disenchanted section of the Gorgie support in recent weeks, but he says he is relaxed and wants everyone associated with the club to enjoy tomorrow’s final. But by that he does not mean simply revelling in the occasion. “When I say enjoy it, I mean actually enjoy it and winning it is the only way you can really enjoy it.”

While Celtic are aiming to win their ninth successive domestic trophy, Hearts are in a final for the first time since 2013, their last taste of Scottish Cup glory coming in 2012.

Levein is hoping to make showcase events and silverware more regular features and believes that tomorrow could help lay the foundation.

“I think the build-up and the excitement have to be things you look forward to so that when you get back in that position again you can remember all the things that happened last time. The more often you do it, the more comfortable you feel in your skin. We want to get to a place where we feel comfortable in our skin playing in these big games.”