Craig Levein took full responsibility for Hearts’ 5-0 drubbing at Celtic Park, branding himself an “idiot” and an “ass” for the tactics he adopted.
The Hearts manager was unsparingly self-critical as he reflected on the defeat which cuts his team’s lead at the top to one point, having played a game more than second-placed Celtic.
“The manager’s an idiot,” said Levein. “I thought because of all the high-profile games we’ve played recently that our energy levels were starting to wane, so I made a decision to sit in and hit Celtic on the counter-attack but, God, I got that one wrong, eh?
“I’ve done the players a disservice because they had more energy than I thought. But once you set out that way, it’s very difficult to change it until half-time. Put that one down to me. As much as I’d like to blame other people, I can’t do it on this occasion. I just told the players to forget it, we’ve been brilliant up to now and will be back to our normal self next week.
“Celtic have improved recently, everybody recognises that, but I didn’t give the players a chance today, so I’ll put that one down as a learning experience and next time we come here we’ll be having a go for sure. We are still sitting top of the league after 12 games and we have had to deal with a lot of problems injury wise, so all credit to the boys. We will just consign this one to the dustbin. I am an ass for playing this way today.”
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was gratified by a display which underlined the champions’ return to form. “It was fantastic,” said Rodgers. “The game today and this week showed the level the players have been at domestically over the last two and a half years. It’s still early in the season but it was a joy to watch the team and their qualities today.”