Gary Naysmith, a Scottish Cup winner with Hearts in 1998, believes that 39 of Scotland’s 42 senior clubs will be hoping that Craig Levein’s side prevail when they meet Celtic in Saturday’s final of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
The former Scotland full-back believes that supporters throughout the country are tired of Celtic’s domestic domination and would welcome an end to their cycle of success.
Indeed, he contends that the only fans outside those of the holders who will be cheering if Neil Lennon’s players can complete an unprecedented third successive treble will be those of city rivals Hibernian and European hopefuls Aberdeen. The Dons will secure a Europa League qualifying berth for finishing fourth in the Premiership should Celtic complete the clean sweep.
“It sounds as though we’re not giving credit to Celtic for their achievement being on the brink of winning nine trophies out of nine,” he said. “But I think the public is now getting fed up of Celtic winning continuous trophies.
“For Hearts, though, it would be a good way to finish the season and I think most neutrals would want them to win it apart from Hibs fans. And, to be fair, if they were in the final instead of us, I’d want Celtic to beat them.”
As a player, Levein was a key member of the Hearts squad which came agonisingly close to winning the title in 1985-86, only to be denied by a late collapse at Dens Park in the final league game, a match Levein missed through illness. A week later he was in the side which lost to Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final.
In 2008, as Dundee United’s manager, he was four minutes away from beating Rangers in the League Cup final when Mark Kerr’s slack passback allowed Kris Boyd to equalise and Rangers took that trophy as well.
Levein has come under fire from Hearts supporters this season after taking only one point from their final seven Premiership fixtures but Naysmith would love to see him finally claim a winner’s medal.
“Craig will admit that recent results haven’t been good enough for a club like Hearts but now we’re left with a one-off game and it would be fantastic for Craig – after everything he’s done for Hearts – if he could lead them to a victory,” he said.
“By that I mean what he did for them as a player and during his first spell in charge as well as now. Since he’s come back he’s worked hard behind the scenes, building up the academy, played a big part in the training ground and the stadium rebuild and getting the club back on their feet.
“It would be great for him if he finally had something to show for all that. I’m not saying a win on Saturday would appease all the Hearts fans but it would go some way to getting them off his back.
“I feel that those recent results have made a lot of the supporters lose sight of what he’s done for the club but, as we all know, managers are judged on results and for the final third of the season they haven’t been good enough.
“But the players have a chance to write themselves into the history books this weekend and I think that, if you’d offered the fans that recent disappointing run but with the promise of the Scottish Cup at the end of it, they’d have taken that.
“Craig’s a good manager and, with the ability he has, he should be winning trophies – and he’s come close.
“It would be terrific for him if the first thing he’s ever won came at the club he loves.”
l Gary Naysmith was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.