Craig Levein has dismissed the suggestion that Hearts are a one-dimensional team.
Some pundits and supporters have claimed the Tynecastle side are solely reliant on punting the ball forward to bustling striker Uche Ikpeazu and have no alternative way of playing when that doesn’t work.
The manager acknowledged that his team do play long at times but is adamant they have plenty variety to their game. “I had to laugh on Saturday when that came up,” said the manager. “Sometimes we do play long ball. Absolutely. We’ve got Uche in the team because he’s good at getting us from point A to point B. The perception is that’s all we do. I completely disagree with that.” Referring to stats produced by Wyscout that show Hearts as one of the least likely teams in the Scottish Premiership to attempt a long pass, Levein said: “But that’s facts. They (the critics) don’t want to talk about that. Don’t go there, please! I’m happy to leave the perception the way it is. My view is we’ve got a really good player at the front of the field who can do things that other players can’t deal with, so let’s use him. We don’t use him all the time. A lot of the time, we play our good football after we do use him. And a lot of the time we play out from the back, go wide and get crosses in. If we lose a match, the perception is allowed to be magnified. Sometimes we play against a team doing exactly the same thing as us – and it’s never mentioned.
“I used to worry about things like that. The only way I can influence what people say about the team, the best I can do, is to get them to play well – and win. That keeps people quiet for a while. That’s my nirvana.”