Craig Levein's greatest spats as Hearts manager

Following Dundee United's strongly worded rebuttal of Craig Levein's claim that the Championship club nearly ruined John Souttar's career, we look back at some of the Hearts manager's most memorable spats since taking the reins just over a year ago.

Tuesday, 18th September 2018, 3:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th September 2018, 4:06 pm
Craig Levein has enjoyed his fair share of spats since taking the reins at Heart of Midlothian (Photo: SNS)

Craig Levein v Derek McInnes: 'He's at it ain't he?'

Just nine days into his second tenure as Hearts boss Craig Levein engaged in his first war of words.

His first victim was to be Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes who complained when his side were unable to train at Hearts' temporary home, Murrayfield Stadium.

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Craig Levein has enjoyed his fair share of spats since taking the reins at Heart of Midlothian (Photo: SNS)

In trademark fashion the former Scotland manager opted for a less than diplomatic approach and claimed that McInnes was "at it".

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“Listen, we don’t have many advantages just now and I’m certainly not going to give up one that we do have and that is to be able to train on the pitch.

“The pitch is excellent, and Aberdeen’s pitch will be excellent just now as well. I don’t really think there’s a great advantage."

The game finished a 0-0 draw.

Craig Levein v Neil Lennon: 'Natural order restored'

It was following a victory over city rivals Hibs that Craig Levein would come out with arguably his most controversial quote.

The joker-in-chief claimed that "natural order" had been restored when Hearts overcame Hibs in a derby for the first time in ten games.

Unsurprisingly Neil Lennon and the Hibs faithful didn't take kindly to the veteran managers post-match jibe with the former saying: “I think he was pandering to the masses with the comment.

“I think it’s derogatory to my club, my players, our supporters and me. I just find it in really poor taste."

Undeterred by the outcry he had caused Levein described the spat as "just a laugh".

But, it was ultimately Hibs fans who had the last laugh when the sides next met. A section of fans unveiled a banner reading 'NATURAL ORDER?' in the closing minutes of a Hibs trumph.

Craig Levein v Michael Stewart: 'worst value for money I have ever had from any player'

No one is safe from Levein's trademark insults, not even ex players. Just ask Michael Stewart.

In December last year Stewart accused Levein of living in a “parallel universe” on BBC Sportsound after the Hearts manager claimed the team were “fantastic” in their goalless draw with Ross County.

Levein struck back, slating the pundit and his employer, the BBC.

“It is personal and he is just making a fool of himself. I don’t particularly like him and I hear he doesn’t like me.

“I’m actually not that bothered about Michael Stewart or what he says but I am annoyed at the BBC. For him to admit that he has an agenda and for them to still allow him that platform, for me, that is a nonsense.

“He is trying to whip up fans and as I say it is the BBC... they have allowed him that opportunity but I have had a conversation so we will see what happens.”

Levein also added that Stewart, who he signed on loan from Manchester United during the 2004/2005 season, was the “worst value for money I have ever had from any player”.

Craig Levein v Scott Brown: 'Harry bossed him'

Craig Levein's finest moment so far of his second stint as manager of Hearts came back in December 2017 when his team thumped a Celtic side unbeaten in 69 games 4-0.

Just over a month later the sides faced off again and Celtic captain Scott Brown, apparently determined to stamp his authority on the game, put in a robust challenge on 16-year-old Harry Cochrane which saw the youngster subbed off for Prince Buaben.

Following his side's 3-1 defeat Levein singled out Brown for the tackle suggesting that Brown had been embarrassed in the previous fixture.

He said: "I watched it back and I think Scott had decided after the game at Tynecastle, when Harry bossed him, he wasn't going to let that happen.

"I've known Scott for a long time and he is aggressive in the way he plays."

Brown's manager Brendan Rodgers leapt to the midfielders defence stating: "If you go back to the game itself, there were more fouls made by Hearts players than Celtic players."

In Celtic's next game Brown received a yellow card which Celtic's number 8 claimed Levein was responsible for.

He claimed: "I was booked with my first foul and I think that is exactly what Craig was looking to do."

Levein determined to have the last word responded suggesting that Brown had earned the booking intentionally in order to avoid suspension for an upcoming Old Firm Derby.

He said: "I think if you look and see if Scott didn't get booked against Kilmarnock last week and he got booked against St Johnstone then he would have missed the Rangers game. I'll leave you to deduce what that means... I think you'll find his intentions were to always get booked in that game so he doesn't miss the Rangers game."

Craig Levein v Brendan Rodgers: 'he can moan and bleat all he wants'

Craig Levein' and Brendan Rodgers exchanged barbed comments again before the season came to a close.

Following a 3-1 victory over Hearts, Brendan Rodgers bemoaned the tactics his team were required to employ due to an untrimmed Tynecastle Park pitch.

He said “that wasn’t football." before saying he was "embarrassed" by the state of the pitch.

Levein was unapologetic, claiming: "There's not a level playing field in Scotland and I make no apologies for staying within the rules and trying to win the game. He can moan and bleats all he wants but it'll be the same again next season."

When quizzed on whether he had asked the groundsman to allow the grass to grow, Levein stifled a chuckle and said "maybe".

The spat was reignited ahead of the pair's fixture earlier this season, with Levein criticising “crazy” attempts to dictate maximum length of grass in Scottish football and vowed to be unmoved by Brendan Rodgers’ criticism of the Tynecastle pitch.

Asked how the pitch was shaping up for the crunch match, Levein joked: “It’s a bit long just now, that’s all I can say.”