Craig Levein has admitted Hearts’ midfield didn’t work and that he should have started 16-year-old Harry Cochrane in the Edinburgh derby.
The Tynecastle manager conceded that his team didn’t perform after Simon Murray’s third-minute goal at Easter Road won the game for Hibs. On-loan Liverpool midfielder Connor Randall and the versatile Pole Rafal Grzelak played in the middle of the pitch, with Cochrane replacing Grzelak at half-time. Levein stated in hindsight that he should have put the teenager in his starting line-up, and explained why he left striker Esmael Goncalves on the substitutes’ bench to come on in the second half.
“It’s easy looking back but I maybe should have started Harry,” Levein told the Evening News. “I was worried about Isma playing three games in a week so I thought I could bring him on if we got into a good position. That wasn’t the case.
“Maybe that’s my responsibility for not doing that but again it’s easy to say that after the game. Harry’s quite a tough wee boy. He’ll compete – it’s just that he hasn’t got anywhere near the kind of strength that the players he’s playing against have got. That’s the problem.”
The Hearts midfield finished second best to Hibs’ central three of Dylan McGeouch, John McGinn and Marvin Bartley. “We don’t have that quality in there at this moment in time. We miss Arnaud Djoum, who is a loss for us,” continued Levein.
“I put Grzelak and Connor Randall into the midfield to give us a bit of bite but they just got lost. Again, that’s partly my responsibility.
“I’m disappointed with the result. I have no complaints about the effort the players put into the match. They just didn’t pass the ball well enough. I never really felt we had control of the game.
“I think the first half was really poor. We didn’t really get going at all. I didn’t feel we were getting cut open but we never got it going the way we needed to. We ended up giving it away, than defending. Giving it away, and then defending.
“We didn’t take the ball where we needed to take it to get us out of that predicament. So that was a disappointing thing, we didn’t pass the ball well enough.
“In the second half, we were better and I thought Harry made a difference to that. He recognised the right time to get on the ball but we didn’t do well enough, even once he got it and made some decent passes.”
Cochrane’s late tackle on McGinn earned him a yellow card, although some suggested he could have been sent off. Levein disagreed.
“I don’t think so, the referee saw it as a booking. I think there is a lot of people in the team who haven’t played in this game before, some have, but they will know what it is about the next time.
“I am disappointed, I expected better. I didn’t feel we got to the levels we needed to get to to have a chance of winning this match. But we move on now to Saturday.”