Bittersweet St Johnstone boss Craig Levein reacts to Hearts defeat - 'I couldn't believe it'
Craig Levein was adamant that St Johnstone had taken plenty of positives from the game against Hearts – he just couldn’t count any points among them.
Tasting defeat for the first time in his three games at the helm after a 1-0 loss in Gorgie, he said there was enough in the performance to encourage them to look up rather than worry about who is trailing them in the Premiership. “We got something out of it in some regards but not the points we were looking for,” Levein said. “The first 15 minutes was a little bit of a disappointment for me because we didn't really get going at all. I think we were nervous but after that we had a chance and it seemed to settle everybody down and after that we were never out of the game at all. It's a bitter-sweet feeling because we did a lot of things well.”
Zander Clark pulled off a superb first half stop from Luke Robinson and even when Hearts took the lead it did not snuff out the visitors’ competitive edge as they pushed their hosts all the way to the final whistle. “I couldn't believe he saved that, to be honest,” lamented the former Hearts player, manager and director of football. “The work-rate was fabulous, it really was. It was a really competitive match. Our midfield in particular was really good and we got things out of it that we'd been working on the training good, and defensively we were good but we didn't get the points and that's the most important thing.
“The pleasing things are the things that are hard to instil in a team, and that is the confidence to pass the ball and try to break the opposition down. But what do you do with Boyce and Shankland if they get a chance? We tried to stop them getting chances and that was one of the things I was really pleased about. Apart from that opportunity we restricted them to very little but they're just so good at putting the ball in the net.”
But, despite the setback, he is convinced his new charges can save themselves from the drop. “I’m positive about that but you still have to do it,” Levein added. “Getting points is the only thing that pushes you up the table. That's the priority for us.”