Hearts manager Craig Levein has conceded that the club is in a vulnerable state at the moment but warned those who are keen to make the most of the situation there is a resilience that will enable them to bounce back.
Managerial upheaval and player unrest at the start of the league campaign have morphed into a streak of six games without a win and run-ins with officialdom in recent weeks. Added to a nomadic start to the season, followed by a number of delays and teething problems with the new main stand, the club has not had its woes to seek. But the Hearts boss insisted they are working to address the current issues.
“The club is going through a difficult period, we’ve got off-field issues, we’ve got on-field issues and we are vulnerable to people poking us with a stick. The important thing is that we will resolve all of these things hopefully in a pretty short space of time. I’d like to think that by the summer we look a lot different to where we are just now,” said the man whose team will host Motherwell this afternoon.
“There has been a lot going on and I just yearn for a normal week when nothing happens and we win at the end of the week. That would be nice. Sometimes you play and it’s easy, you build momentum and it seems that winning is straightforward, but there are other times when it is a puzzle. That’s kind of where we are just now.
“The stuff about the stand is nothing to worry about. The fire alarm went off last week, the lights went out the week before. But I suppose with any big building project, particularly one where there’s time pressure to open quickly, there is going to be issues. It’s a big undertaking. But these are little problems in the bigger scheme of things.
“Going back three years we were nearly out of existence. We’ve built a £12 million stand together, we’ve got back into the Premiership, we’ve quadrupled the investment in the academy. Overall, we’re in a really good spot. But right now there are some things that are causing us a bit of grief.”
While many managers contrive ways to foster a siege mentality, Levein said that everything that has happened at the club this term has helped develop that feeling naturally. “I think the players have been like that anyway,” he said. “We were down to ten men last week for an hour against Hamilton, a team who beat Rangers at Ibrox a fortnight previously, but I think we showed we have got that, we have resilience about us.
“We maybe need just a little bit of quality and also to be a bit calmer at times. But it’s hard to push the players to work hard and be aggressive and at the same time have that calmness. We don’t have both those things yet, but we’ll get there.”
There was little serenity at Tynecastle last weekend as all hell broke loose and was just another episode in the crazy soap opera that is Scottish football. On the day, Levein was among those struggling to keep his emotions in check but, in doing so, he said that vindicated the club’s decision to install an experienced operator to guide them through such a turbulent period.
“If it had been a young manager, I’m telling you, they would have been demented by now,” he said.
“So many things have happened that are unusual. It is a fact that we wanted to stabilise everything and we are in a place now where I can honestly say that when we look at all the data that we get, from training and games, the players are working extremely hard and doing everything they can to try to win matches.
“We’re not happy with the way things are, that’s not a secret. But the moment where you think the world is against us and nothing is going right, it becomes a bigger problem. Things will turn.”