Ashamed Hearts captain Christophe Berra tells players to stand up like men
Hearts captain Christophe Berra admitted feeling ashamed at Friday's 5-0 defeat by Livingston. Playing his 200th competitive game for the Edinburgh club, the 33-year-old said he wanted to forget the match but implored his colleagues to stand up and react like men.
Five goals inside a shambolic 14-minute spell near the end of the match left Hearts on the end of a trouncing in West Lothian. They had Arnaud Djoum sent off moments after falling 1-0 behind to a Craig Halkett penalty.
Dolly Menga’s solo goal, two strikes from Ryan Hardie and a late Shaun Byrne effort completed Livingston’s biggest ever victory against Hearts. Berra said he was beyond angry at full-time and admitted he and his team-mates should hang their heads in shame.
“It’s embarrassing. It’s just not good enough for Hearts and everyone should be embarrassed. It’s not what I wanted on my 200th appearance and it’s not one I’ll want to remember, I’ll try and forget it very quickly. Getting beaten in any game is hard to take but there are ways to lose.
“Most players were naive. It was schoolboy stuff not seeing a game out. We played into their hands after the penalty. Now we have to take it on the chin. It’s a great win in Livi’s history and it will go down in our history for the wrong reasons.
“We have to stand up and be counted and come back stronger. We have to take the criticism which we will rightly receive and get on with it. We have to be men. We had a good start to the season and then a dip but a couple of good results in the last few weeks and then this, which was underwhelming.
“Everything they hit seemed to go in during the second half. I’m ashamed of Friday. It brought us back down to earth. Last week against Motherwell we ground it out and showed a good team spirit to dig in and Friday was the opposite.”
Berra felt Djoum was harshly dismissed for a second booking for a foul on Menga but conceded that was not an acceptable excuse for Hearts. The opening goal came via a justified penalty award when the visiting goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal wiped Halkett out inside the area.
“The first goal was a penalty – no doubt,” said Berra. “The sending off was soft when I see it again. He’s actually got the ball. Arnaud has maybe fallen on his private parts – that’s what he was holding, not his ankle.
“The red card is no excuse. We lost rubbish goals, we lost a couple playing into midfield where they are strong and they are all over you like a rash. We started the second half better and they weren’t causing problems. Then they get the penalty and everything fell for them. We were chasing the ball when we shouldn’t have.
“At 1-0 we should have stayed tight and tried to nick a goal at a place where it’s notoriously hard to get a result. Losing the ball in the middle of the goal when we were wide open was poor. There was a counter-attack from a free-kick and then a long ball.
“We knew how difficult this game would be. We gifted them their chances. I don’t think Arnaud deserved a first booking or the sending off but that’s not an excuse.
“We should hang our heads in shame and then try to bounce back. If we go to Pittodrie and win on Saturday then it could be a different outlook. We need to buck up our ideas.”
Berra is confident Hearts have the required character in their dressing room to recover. Defeat in West Lothian coupled with other results over the weekend leaves them sitting fifth in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
“When I came in I was past angry. Sometimes results go beyond that. There will be harsh words said by the press and the fans and rightly so. We need to buck up our ideas with three massive games to come before the break.
“Livingston have had a great season but the way we started the season we should be better than this. You have to earn the right to win games and we didn’t do that. Livingston deserve credit for a great win even if we under-performed.
“We’ve got some strong characters, even if we didn’t show that against Livi. We know what we are capable of. We defended for our lives against Motherwell and put bodies on the line, but Friday was open and individuals were playing within themselves.
“We chased the ball when we didn’t need to, especially after we went to ten men. It’s a night I’ll probably never forget but we have to move on.”