Levein ‘working harder at Hearts than at Scotland’

FORMER Scotland manager Craig Levein says the workload of his new role with Hearts exceeds any of his previous management positions, including his spell as national head coach.

Craig Levein, pictured promoting the Gorgie Club Jazz Evening, is finding his workload is consuming him. Picture: SNS
Craig Levein, pictured promoting the Gorgie Club Jazz Evening, is finding his workload is consuming him. Picture: SNS

Levein, as director of football, is effectively responsible for the recruitment of all players and staff, will train the coaches within the club and is also liaising with the scouting department.

A new head coach, assistant head coach and five players have all arrived under his watch, with an academy director, under-20s coach – understood to be Jack Ross – and under-17s coach expected to join the club next Monday.

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The workload is, in Levein’s own words, “consuming” him in a way that life in the dugout never did – even during the “madness” of his ill-fated three years as national team manager.

And, while he still holds aspirations to coach again, he insists he has simply been too busy to cast envious glances towards head coach Robbie Neilson on the training field.

“Am I working harder than as a manager? A lot harder,” explained the former Hearts, Leicester City and Dundee United boss. “Particularly compared to my last job as the head coach of Scotland. It is a big change from that. With Scotland you had sporadic moments of madness followed by a period of quietness where I was visiting clubs and watching games. There is a lot more involved in this than the Scotland post.

“Hearts needed ten new people to come in and that’s a lot of staff. There is also the playing side and I have a responsibility to help Robbie Neilson and [chief scout] John Murray scout for players and fill the gaps there. That job alone has been taking up much of my time.

“I’m not saying I won’t ever get back into the dugout again, but this job is a huge one and, to be honest, I have far too much to do to worry about getting back involved in the coaching.”

Levein readily admits that, had the call come from any other club than Hearts, he may have been unwilling to trade the dugout for the directors’ box.

Indeed, if it had come from previous Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov – with his regime crumbling amid “overwhelming negativity” – he would have also steered well clear.

“I hadn’t even thought about this role before the conversation with Ann [Budge],” continued Levein. “And if it had been elsewhere it might have been a different story, but knowing the club as I do, it was quite an easy decision.

“I would not have taken this role at Hearts two years ago. All the negativity that was associated with the previous regime by the end was overwhelming.

“To get rid of that and to start with a clean slate and to put people in place and put ideas into action and to see how it manifests itself was a big thing for me.

“I took this job because it intrigued me and because of Ann Budge. Ann’s moral values were something I admired and that is something that needs to permeate throughout the whole club.”

Levein is adamant that, while his own role is all-encompassing at the football club, Neilson’s assured first steps as head coach have ensured he has not been called upon too often on the training field ahead of the upcoming Championship challenge.

“Robbie has been brilliant, he has taken care of just about everything on the playing side of things,” he said.

“He has been very calm, intelligent and his plans make sense, his training programmes make sense. He has been very impressive. Because I have been there for advice, I do feel part of everything without getting directly involved.”

• Craig Levein was speaking ahead of the “Gorgie Club Jazz Evening”, in conjunction with the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, at Tynecastle on 18 July, ahead of Hearts v Manchester City.