Craig Levein insists pressure is on Rangers, not Hearts

Hearts have gone five games without a win but boss Craig Levein believes the pressure is all on Rangers ahead of Sunday's Tynecastle showdown.

The Jambos’ nightmare injury list put the shackles on what had been a stunning start to the campaign from the Gorgie side.

Having led the way from the start, Hearts could find themselves as low as fourth if things go against them this weekend.

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But with the title focus now off his side, Levein reckons his side can prepare to face Steven Gerrard’s side stress-free.

Hearts manager Craig Levein. Pic: SNS/Paul Devlin

He said: “I look at this game as one where there shouldn’t be any nerves from the players.

“It’s a big game, there will be a full house at Tynecastle and there won’t be any time to think.

“Earlier on in the season we’d have gone into this match as favourites but that’s probably not the case right now.

“There’s a different pressure attached to going into a game as underdogs. The key for me is that we perform to a level that allows our supporters to get behind us and produce the atmosphere that will help us.

“In a long-winded way I’m trying to say that not being the favourites can actually help us.”

Hearts suffered their first league defeat this season when they slumped 3-1 at Ibrox seven weeks ago.

The capital outfit contributed to their own downfall with a series of defensive blunders, while Gers keeper Allan McGregor produced a couple of vital stops to prevent Hearts battling back into contention.

But Levein expects better this time.

He said: “I was at the Rangers-Villarreal game last night and I think they are heading in the right direction.

“I haven’t paid too much attention on everything that is going on at Ibrox but I have focused on them this week because we’re playing them. I think Stevie’s done a decent job.

“I was really frustrated after the last game against Rangers as we created numerous opportunities - but we made mistakes too.