I’d swap clean-sheet record for six 2-1 wins – Craig Levein

Craig Levein has made Hearts hard to beat, with excellent performances from players such as John Souttar. Pic: SNS
Craig Levein has made Hearts hard to beat, with excellent performances from players such as John Souttar. Pic: SNS
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Craig Levein admits he would happily swap Hearts’ six-game clean-sheet record for six 2-1 wins.

The manager is elated at seeing his team make defensive history but would have preferred maximum points from each of the matches.

Hearts beat Motherwell, Dundee and Celtic without conceding before three successive goalless draws against St Johnstone, Hibs and Aberdeen. That formed part of a nine-game unbeaten sequence to see out 2017.

Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Pittodrie completed six matches without losing a goal for the first time in the Tynecastle club’s 143-year history.

Levein stressed that points are ultimately more important but admitted being satisfied by the evident different strengths his team have shown.

“Honestly, I’d rather win every single one of these games 2-1 because the points are critical,” he said. “It’s still a significant achievement for any team. The interesting thing is we haven’t done it with the same players every week. The two consistents have been Jon McLaughlin, the goalkeeper, and Christophe Berra. We have chopped and changed and everybody takes a great deal of credit for managing to get this record.

“It gives us confidence to play the way we did, knowing we had five clean sheets in a row behind us. At the weekend, we were able to say: ‘Okay, we’ll go to Aberdeen and we’ll defend a bit deeper.’

“I now know we can do two things: We can press high up the field, which we did well against Celtic, and also we can defend deeper when required in some away matches. I now feel confident about choosing to do either of those two things in the future.”