Hearts' Peter Haring: Celtic aren't fragile - we don't expect mistakes in Scottish Cup final
Recent fan protests against the Parkhead board and manager Neil Lennon came after a run of two wins in 12. However, successive victories against Lille and Kilmarnock in Celtic’s last two fixtures have slightly doused the discontent.
Haring, who is likely to start in midfield for Hearts at Hampden Park, stressed none of his team-mates view their opponents as frail or delicate in any way. Having been in Scotland for more than two years, the Austrian is well aware of the task facing Hearts.
“I wouldn't say they are fragile. Celtic are favourites and we have no problem with that,” he said. “They are one league above us and for everyone they are clear favourites.
“It's still a final and anything can happen so we don't really care who are favourites. We just care what we can do to win the game.
“I watched a few [Celtic] games but I don't read too much news and don't put my head into it too much. When we play them, we know how good they can be.
“When you go into a game with Celtic, you have to expect them at their best. That's what we have to prepare for. I don't expect Celtic to come out and have a bad day, to be honest.
“Obviously their recent results haven't been as good as in the last decade or so, but I still believe they have loads of quality. You can't go into a final and expect the other side not to perform.
“If you know Celtic, they have always performed on big occasions. We expect Celtic to be at their best and that's the only focus we have. You have to prepare that way.”
Erratic defending notoriously undermined Celtic of late, although Haring won’t expect any errors at Hampden. “A few of them were individual mistakes and that happens,” he said.
“You can't expect individual mistakes in the final, absolutely not. We are aware that they have been the best team in Scotland for the last decade so it will be very tough.”
The 27-year-old played in the 2019 Scottish Cup final when Celtic beat Hearts 2-1. He then spent 16 months out with a pelvic injury. Had Sunday’s final taken place in May as originally scheduled, he would not have been fit.
“It’s definitely better for me this way,” he admitted. “I've been speaking enough about being injured and I think there comes a time where you have to say: 'It's done. I won't look back any more.'
“I'm just looking forward now. It doesn't matter if I was injured or not. I'm just going to enjoy playing in another cup final.
“Finals are always different. It's like playing a derby. The occasion is different so form doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter what happened before, it's a do-or-die game and games like that are always different.”