Christophe Berra says it’s only fair to judge Hearts fairly when league campaign starts
Christophe Berra has shrugged off criticism of Hearts’ early-season form and insists they can only be judged fairly when their Premiership campaign gets under way.
Despite topping their Betfred Cup group, the Gorgie side failed to impress and finished it off with last Saturday’s penalty shoot-out loss at East Fife which cost them a seeded place in the last-16 draw.
It has seen manager Craig Levein attract flak from a familiar source with BT Sport pundit and former Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart claiming the club will “always under-achieve” and “never play attractive football” under the current coaching regime.
But Hearts captain Berra, preparing for Sunday’s opening league game against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, is unmoved and believes Levein will not be diverted from the style of play he has implemented.
“People are allowed their opinions,” said Berra. “Michael has been in the game a long time and watches a lot of games. When you are in that line of work, you are paid to give your opinion.
“But as a footballer, and even more as a manager, you need to be thick-skinned. You need to stick to your principles and get on with it. It’s always ups and downs and it has been like that at Hearts for a while.
“There is no doubting what the manager has done for this club as a player and a manager. He has the club’s best interests at heart. Clearly he divides opinion but you get that at virtually every club.
“I’m sure it is the same at Hibs and at Celtic and elsewhere. We have come in for a bit of stick over the past four or five months.
“Part of it is due as we have been inconsistent. There is no hiding from that as a team and a club.
“Ultimately we will get judged on how we start the league and how we do throughout the season.
“There will be a lot of people watching and a lot of people will be giving their opinion. Everyone is due an opinion but not everyone’s opinion counts.
“We should have put the Betfred Cup games to bed this season but we missed too many chances. The results put a bit of a downer on pre-season but we did manage to get through the group.
“There can sometimes be a doom and gloom mindset with Scottish people. It can be hard and difficult to deal with.
“Football is a game to game thing and if we had won 3-0 at the weekend everything would have been fine. But we didn’t do that, although we are not the only team who have struggled in the group games and got a bit of stick.
“You need to take that on the chin and you need to be positive. We are still looking forward to the league campaign starting and that is ultimately where we will be judged.”