Antagonised by Hibs’ eight-match unbeaten run in Edinburgh derbies, the Hearts manager Craig Levein today admitted he wants to be the man to end the dominance.
The Capital clubs meet in an eagerly-anticipated match at Tynecastle Park this evening with Hearts eager to defeat their neighbours for the first time since August 2014.
Levein stressed that the desire to stop Hibs is “massive” as he seeks to prolong his own club’s recent good form. Hearts’ goalless draw with St Johnstone on Saturday was their seventh game unbeaten and their fourth successive clean sheet.
Now the focus is on Hibs and, from Levein’s perspective, righting a wrong.
“It annoys me that we lose in these derby matches because I don’t know anything else other than winning them,” he told the Evening News.
“It’s a big thing for me, a massive thing. I want to be the guy who stops that. That’s the intention tonight. The players already know what’s required.
“They’re actually quite a competitive group and I think you see that in our play. I was asked last week about that and I’ll say the same now: We won’t get bullied.
“We might lose the match, and I’ll be absolutely devastated if we do, but we will be doing everything we can to win it.”
Levein puts Hearts’ recent resurgence down to one thing – hard work. He took on the manager’s job in addition to his director of football role in September, and has slowly worked on making his side harder to beat.
He is confident Hearts are now a different proposition to the team which surrendered meekly to Hibs in their last meeting at Easter Road in October.
“I was always hopeful that we could get characters who want to stand up, be counted and work their backsides off,” he added.
“That’s always the place to start – work rate, effort and the competitive nature of games. Being able to cope with that and being able to work your backside off is a great place to start.
“From that comes this kind of run, and from this comes more confidence. Once we get more confidence, we’ll be off and running.
“I think Hibs will face a different team tonight than the last time.”