Andy Webster tells Hearts fans: Forget Craig Levein criticism, back team in Scottish Cup

Andy Webster reckons the Hearts fans need to focus on driving their side to the Scottish Cup Final rather than having a go at Craig Levein for losing the Edinburgh derby and criticising his style of play.

Andy Webster previews this weekend's William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final between Hearts and Inverness. Picture: SNS Group
Andy Webster previews this weekend's William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final between Hearts and Inverness. Picture: SNS Group

The former Tynecastle defender understands the frustrations of the supporters after such a bright start to the season but feels they have to be realistic.

Hearts have been hammered by lengthy injury periods to key players – Christophe Berra, Steven Naismith, John Souttar and Uche Ikpeazu.

And Webster reckons the Jambos fans shouldn’t really care how their team plays – as long as they beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday and reach their 15th Cup Final.

Criticism: Hearts boss Craig Levein. Picture: SNS Group

He said: “Criticism is part and parcel of football whether you are a manager or a player.

“Craig Levein has been there before so he is experienced enough to handle it. I haven’t looked into the criticism too deeply, but I know he has had some.

“The initial part of the season was outstanding and when that happens expectations start to rise and people are looking for more.

“But then when you have injuries to key players like Christophe Berra and Steven Naismith it’s going to have a major impact on your squad.

Webster lifted the cup with Dundee United and Hearts during his playing career. Pictures: SNS Group

“They are two key figures so as much as it’s an opportunity for others to come in it’s a major disappointment that two of you best players are missing for a period of time.

“All of these things have to be taken into consideration. I have been there myself. When you start very well people get excited. But it’s hard to maintain

“That’s why when you see team win league titles, they always deserve it because that level of consistency you need to win a league is really hard to achieve.”

The after-effects of a derby defeat are always hard, but Webster feels his old side was unfortunate.

He said: “Hearts started well on Saturday. They looked a threat going forward and from set-plays. They then scored a very good goal.

“Hibs’ equaliser was against the run of play and took the wind out of Hearts’ sails for a period of time.

“Their second goal was real quality and sometimes you need to hold your hands up. The question then was how Hearts could get themselves back into the game and that didn’t really happen.

“Any Hearts team is expected to win a derby at Tynecastle. If you don’t get it, you need to put up with the disappointment that comes with it.

“But there is still an opportunity there for Hearts to get to a cup final and extend the season.

“Nobody wants to watch a cup final on holiday in Spain. These opportunities don’t come around that often. So, when they do, you need to grasp them, give everything you have.”

Pundits and punters alike have had their say on Hearts’ style but Webster reckons Levein is simply playing to his strengths.

He said: “Everybody has an idealistic approach to playing football, a certain style of play.

“But you also have to utilise the tools that you’ve got. Uche Ikpeazu has a physicality about him that will cause any player problems.

“I played with Mark de Vries at Hearts the first time around and he was in the same mould.

“Whether you call that one-dimensional or playing to your strengths, you can dress it up any way you want.

“If it’s effective and it gets your team to win, are you really that fussed?

“We’d all like to get the ball down and play like Manchester City or Liverpool, but sometimes circumstances don’t allow it.”

• Andy Webster was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is a proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.