Hearts manager Craig Levein insists he made the controversial “natural order” remark because he has been used to winning against Hibs in the Edinburgh derby for a “long, long time”. The capital foes lock horns in tomorrow evening’s televised showdown at Easter Road for the first time since Levein infuriated his Hibs counterpart Neil Lennon with his comments in the wake of Hearts’ 1-0 Scottish Cup win in January.
It was the first time the Gorgie side had savoured success in the fixture in ten matches and Levein claimed that “natural order” had been restored. The remark riled Lennon who described Levein’s post-match interview as a “crock of crap” and “disrespectful”.
Levein, whose side trail fourth-placed Hibs by nine points, has since said he did not regret his choice of words.
And the former Scotland manager, who is in his second stint in the Hearts dugout having also played for the club, has attempted to explain his comments.
Levein, who is hoping to have captain Christophe Berra available after the defender sustained a head knock in last weekend’s Scottish Cup quarter-final defeat by Motherwell, told Sky Sports: “My experiences of this game are ones of positivity and from the teams I’ve been involved in, I’m used to coming out on top in this fixture and that was my point.
“Part of it was tongue in cheek of course, but my experiences of this derby match are usually, we win the game and that’s what it’s been like for a long, long time.”
Levein reckons a Hibs team gunning for revenge in the fixture could work in Hearts’ favour.
He added: “Hibs will be determined, especially at home, to beat us in this fixture, and I understand that. But from my point of view, the harder they try the better it is for us.”
As a Hearts player and manager Levein has lost just seven of 55 Edinburgh derbies he has been involved in.