Dundee manager James McPake accuses Hearts counterpart Robbie Neilson of stoking the fire
McPake was unhappy with Neilson’s interview in the Evening News, where the Hearts manager discussed last summer’s email fiasco which resulted in an enforced relegation for his club.
Dens Park officials delivered the casting vote and Neilson said that remained a motivating factor as fans prepared to attend a Hearts-Dundee game for the first time since.
“The historical stuff last year is something that we need to make sure we remember going into the game. I think there will be a good atmosphere on the day, let’s say that,” commented Neilson last week.
McPake said the remarks were needless and heaped even more pressure on the Dundee striker Leigh Griffiths, who was taunted by home fans throughout the afternoon.
“His motivation is to play football. I don't want to get dragged into it but I don't think it helps when opposition managers are saying it's going to be a white-hot atmosphere,” said McPake.
“We already know that. There were going to be 20,000 fans in here [Tynecastle] and Leigh is a target, we know that. He [Neilson] will look at the fact there was a voting scandal but we've played them three times since then. He was the manager of Dundee United.
“I don't think there was a need to say that. Maybe he should concentrate on his own team. Rightly so, he has to try and get his own fans up for it but you're at Tynecastle with a chance to go top of the league. I don't think certain comments help the situation you've just brought up with Leigh.
“It is stoking the fire. I didn't quite like that. I can only concentrate on Dundee and the wellbeing of our players. Leigh has been great, he has loads of experience in about him. Dave Mackay knows him, I know him, Charlie Adam is great.
“I certainly don't think certain things have helped the situation. I want Leigh Griffths to enjoy playing football, which he is at Dundee.”
John Souttar’s opening goal was cancelled out when Dundee substitute Jason Cummings headed a late equaliser. “It wasn’t happening in the first half. We tidied it up in the second and got a point. I don’t think it was snatching a point,” stated McPake.
“For all Hearts’ possession, apart from their goal and one shot that hit the post, they didn’t trouble us too much.
“When you can bring on Cillian Sheridan, Jason Cummings and Danny Mullen, that helps. It's a fair result. We weren't really on top but we weren’t under too much pressure either.
“Cummings has shown a real character that maybe people will doubt. He has been excellent in training. He’s probably been disappointed [not being in the team] because his goalscoring record at Dundee is good.
“It probably sums him up when you bring him over to give instructions and he says: ‘I’m going to get the winner.’ That's the belief he has. He says he will score all the time.
“Noboby gave us a chance. From their point of view, it was a case of them blowing us away. They obviously haven’t looked at the characters we’ve got. That was never going to happen.”