Levein and Heckingbottom find themselves in a bit of a pickle ahead of derby

If fond memory really does bring the light, Hearts fans might like to pause and reflect that 15 years ago this month their side became the first Scottish team to qualify for the group stage of the Europa League.

Craig Levein supervises training ahead of the game against Motherwell. Picture: Roddy Scott/SNS

It’s not just a long time ago. It’s also a long way from second bottom of the league, where they find themselves now under the same manager.

Craig Levein left Hearts shortly after creating some history with a 2-2 draw against Braga and continued his managerial odyssey at Leicester City. Subsequent stints at Dundee United and Scotland kept him firmly in the limelight, with his current situation beginning to resemble that haunted, unhappy spell in charge of the national side.

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He’s still backing himself. A revealing interview this week saw him stress he can fix things. “I like Levein, I don’t like our performances,” was one response posted on Twitter in response to the manager’s comments.

Levein, pictured, doesn’t just need a good performance against Motherwell this afternoon, he requires victory.

So, too, does Hibs manager Paul Heckingbotton, whose team travel to Kilmarnock this afternoon just two points and two places better off than their city rivals. The two sides clash at Easter Road next Sunday.

Arguably, it’s Heckingbottom who is in a trickier position. He doesn’t have any of the backdated grace providing Levein with at least a little shelter from the brickbats.

Heckingbottom isn’t a former elegant skipper of Hibs and wasn’t in charge for a successful spell prior to returning to a place no-one disputes is his footballing home.

In fact, the Yorkshireman is viewed as passionless and out of the touch with the fans.

Both men are heading into this afternoon in a bit of a pickle. These are the derbies before The Derby: games they can ill-afford to lose and, truly, need to win.