'The manager is an idiot' - Craig Levein's best and worst quotes as Hearts manager

Now that Craig Levein has departed as Hearts manager, we look back at some of his best and worst quotes from his second spell in charge of the club.

Friday, 1st November 2019, 12:43 pm
Updated Friday, 1st November 2019, 1:12 pm

On taking over as manager in August 2017:

“The club is going in the right direction. This is a job I’ll like, even though I know it will be tough.”

On Ross Callachan and Marvin Bartley's social media 'spat' in October 2017:

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Craig Levein has amused and frustrated fans with his comments in press conferences. Picture: SNS
Craig Levein has amused and frustrated fans with his comments in press conferences. Picture: SNS

“It used to be you were man enough to say something on the field. I’ve not spoken to Ross about it. Maybe Ross will Tweet him back with something nasty. What a nonsense.”

On the style of play after the 2-1 defeat to Kilmarnock at BT Murrayfield in November 2017:

“I’m standing on the touchline, we aren’t playing well, we’re passing the ball backwards, it’s going back to the goalie, then to the centre-back, and back to the goalie again. I’m not feeling good about it. I know how to make the Hearts supporters happy, and that’s to do more of what we did in the second half – go forward. Going forward with a bit of pace is what we all want.”

On BBC pundit and former Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart in December 2017:

Criag Levein has feuded with a number of managers. Picture: SNS

“It is personal with Michael and he is just making a fool of himself. I don’t particularly like him and I hear he doesn’t like me. For him to admit that he has an agenda and for them (BBC) to still allow him the platform, for me, that is a nonsense.

“Someone was telling me that he was trawling about on Saturday night trying to find stuff on the internet to prove that we hadn’t played well. It is hysterical. He just needs to chill. He’s going to self-combust one day, that’s for sure.

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And on signing Stewart for the club in 2004:

The former Hearts boss has criticised his own players. Picture: SNS

“We had to put something on the contract so it was £1 a week and, without doubt, it was the worst value for money I have ever had from any player, and that is a fact.”

On then Hibs boss Neil Lennon’s comments that Hearts tried to kick Hibs off the park in December 2017:

“Lenny forgets I watched him play. I’ve got to laugh. He made a career out of kicking people.”

Referencing Hibs' angst at not seeing an Oli Shaw effort cross the line in a previous derby draw following the 1-0 in the Scottish Cup fourth round with a scrappy goal in Jauary 2018:

Levein showed a mischievous side. Picture: SNS

“We managed to bundle the ball over the line and I was almost hoping it wasn’t in. That would’ve been brilliant.”

On the 'natural order':

“I don’t like this idea that Hibs were gaining any sort of momentum and I want to try to restore the natural order of things.”

And a reply to Lennon's anger at the comment:

“Regrets? No, it was a good laugh wasn’t it?”

On Celtic captain Scott Brown in January 2018:

Levein led the team to a Scottish Cup final. Picture: SNS

“I think everybody should get a little bit more protection from Scott Brown.”

On Brown again:

“I think it’s a nonsense Scott pointing out that he got booked on Saturday because I made a point of saying he gets away with more than most, although I do actually believe that. Then I looked at his disciplinary record and saw that he was on five bookings and worked out that getting booked means he misses the St Johnstone game — but plays against Rangers. I kind of put two and two together. And I think I’ve come up with four.”

The view on French midfielder Malaury Martin:

“He’s the type of player Ian wanted his team to play with but he’s not the type of player I want my team to play with. He just doesn’t fit in with what I want to do.”

On signing veteran striker Steven MacLean:

“One of the things that I like, and this might sound quite strange, but I like the fact he has never been able to run.”

His reply then Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers’ claims that he was “embarrassed” about the Tynecastle pitch at the end of the 2017/2018 season:

“I would have hated to see the fury and the froth if they had actually lost the game. If we want to talk about a level playing field, if they bring a team through here that earn the same money as our players do, then we will put them out on the pitch and see who wins.”

After the Hoops boss referenced Scotland's failure to make tournament as part of his pitch criticism:

“So if we cut all the grass short, then we’ll go to the finals? Brilliant. Why did nobody think of that? That’s just unbelievable. The development of players for me is about giving them the opportunity to play - much, much more than the length of the grass. That is a serious comment.”

When asked if he requested the groundsman to keep the grass longer than usual:

“Maybe.”

On the Tynecastle Park pitch ahead of Celtic's visit in August 2018:

“The grass has been cut Monday...Tuesday… Wednesday, and I think the lawnmower might be broken for Thursday and Friday."

On his role in his side's 5-0 defeat at Celtic in November 2018:

“The manager is an idiot."

His view on the 5-0 defeat to Livingston in December 2018:

"I'm embarrassed in all honesty."

On Derek McInnes over referees:

"I get fed up with Del being a d**k. This is the same Derek McInnes that was on the phone to me three weeks ago crying his eyes out about decisions that he got in the Celtic game and the sending off against Rangers."

On Uche Ikpeazu's after he was asked how far away the Englishman is regarding his injury:

“75 yards."

On David Vanecek after he was subbed after 30 minutes against Dundee in January 2019:

"I thought he was rubbish."

Levein's retort to Michael Stewart after the ex-player criticised his Vanecek treatment:

"Me taking advice on management from Michael, or Michael offering advice, is laughable. One, he's not intelligent enough to do a managerial job and two, he isn't brave enough.

"From my point of view, why would I take advice from somebody like Michael Stewart about football? It's crazy. It's like taking advice about politics from somebody like...Michael Stewart.

“He's not clever enough or brave enough to do that. It does make me laugh because it's so obvious. He's going to self combust one day.

“He can't help himself. He tries for a period of time. I wouldn't say he's waiting to pounce because he comes lumbering through the door. There's nothing subtle about it.

"I've dealt with the player and he doesn't know the circumstances. Just because Michael said it, we shouldn't assume that it's wrong... but it is.”

On fans protest after the Motherwell game in September 2019:

"Do I feel my position is untenable? I don't. I feel I am more than capable of improving results. The season has just started. We are six points off fourth place. I don't consider that to be a huge problem for us."

His view after the 1-0 defeat to Kilmarnock at Tynecastle in October 2019:

"We need bigger characters in the team. The good news for me is that we'll start to get them back for the next match."

On Peter Haring and magic in October 2019:

"Peter is actually much further down the road than he was in the summer. He has been training but there is this one thing, when he strikes the ball he feels sharp pain. We are hopeful that the can magic that way over the next few days."

His response to speculation that Rangers were interested in Aaron Hickey:

“Who do we play at the weekend? (Rangers) We’re going to put an offer in for [Alfredo] Morelos tomorrow."

On the 0-0 draw with ten-man Livingston in October 2019:

"We have built on it [the Rangers result] to a degree because we lost 5-0 here last year. Today was a hell of a lot better than that. I feel we have carried on from the Rangers game."

His view on his final game - a 1-0 defeat to St Johnstone:

"The league table does not look great and it’s not going to look great for the next few weeks even if we win matches. I released some frustration by shouting after the game. I understand the frustration of the supporters. Nobody want to win games more than I do. Nobody has more of a vested interest in wining than I do. I have no qualms in them voicing their frustration. My job is not to get overly concerned about that. My job is to win football matches."