Hibs’ Paul Heckingbottom: There can be no sentiment for Craig Levein in derby – we battle for the win

Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom has insisted he and Hearts boss Craig Levein will go into Sunday’s first Edinburgh derby of the season worrying more about the three points than their jobs.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 6:00 am
Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom, right, and in particular Hearts boss Craig Levein, are under pressure going into the derby

Both Heckingbottom and Levein are under fire following dismal starts to the Premiership season, the Easter Road side without a win since the opening day of the season but still two points better off than the Jam Tarts who sit rock-bottom of the league table.

Hearts fans protested outside Tynecastle following last weekend’s defeat by Motherwell, club chairman Ann Budge responding by giving Levein her vote of confidence while insisting that, contrary to one report, no-one had been lined up to replace him.

While there have been no such visible signs of supporters’ anger on the other side of the city, Hibs fans have also voiced their unhappiness, although Heckingbottom revealed he’s had “good conversations” with the club’s new owner Ron Gordon after each of his team’s past three matches, games which has been them take just one point.

Heckingbottom, however, was adamant that neither boss can afford to worry too much about the implications of losing the derby. “That’s the job,” said the former Barnsley and Leeds United manager. “You are not there to keep another manager in a job, you are there to get the three points.

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“He (Levein) will know we’ll be trying everything to beat him, that’s the nature of the job. I have got to know a few of the managers since I’ve been up here and it’s just the same as down south, there has to be a respect there for each other and the job you are doing because it can be a tough job.

“I wouldn’t swap it for anything, I really enjoy it, but sometimes managers go through it. It can be a lonely place for him, his family, everything. That doesn’t mean you can go easy on him. We have to try to win the game, shake hands and then have a beer afterwards.

“Craig has been at Hearts a hell of a long time so I don’t think anyone can doubt his passion for the club. He’s in this position because of results.”

The same, of course, can be said of Heckingbottom but, insisted, the Yorkshireman, he is relishing the coming week, the derby being followed by a return to Rugby Park, where his side lost last weekend, for a Betfred Cup quarter-final against Kilmarnock and then a visit from champions Celtic.

While some might not share his thoughts, he said: “I’m just trying to think back when I was in a dressing room playing. Those are the games I wanted to play in, so it’s just the same now. They are the games you want to be involved in, that’s the reason why we came up here.

“They didn’t disappoint last year so we are expecting more of the same this year.”