Hearts boss admits he is ‘hands-off’ as he reveals behind the scenes set up



Hearts manager Craig Levein admits he has taken a hands-off approach – after previously being accused of interfering too much in first team affairs.

Levein has overseen an upturn in the team’s fortunes just two games into his second stint in the dugout after building on the hugely encouraging goal-less draw with Aberdeen with last weekend’s gritty victory at Hamilton.

But the former Scotland boss admits he has delegated much of the responsibility of training to assistant manager Austin MacPhee and first team coaches Jon Daly and Liam Fox during the week, allowing him to adopt a watching brief.

(Pic: BBC Scotland)

Ironically, in his role as director of football, Levein was criticised for exerting too influence on former head coaches Robbie Neilson and Ian Cathro – but the 52-year-old insists he trusts his backroom staff implicitly.

The ex-Dundee United, Leicester City manager said: “I’m different now to how I was at the start of my coaching career here. 

“I’ve got more trust in my staff, I don’t need to do absolutely everything.

“That has been quite a big benefit, to let Jon, Foxy and Austin do what they’re good at – and just keep an eye on things.

“It always is about man management. Years ago, I would have done absolutely everything.

“Now, Austin is responsible for analysis, Jon and Foxy are responsible for putting the training programme together – and Tom (Taylor, sports scientist) is responsible for making sure we don’t kill them.

“Just before killing them, that’s where we want to stop.”

Levein, who takes his side to Partick Thistle tomorrow, added: “I’m always there at training, every day. I come into it on a Thursday and Friday, match day too.

“Pretty much the beginning of the week belongs to everybody else but I feel like Thursday, Friday and Saturday are mine.

“It’s not hard to be less hands-on. I think the director of football thing has helped with that.

“I’ve been standing back – and I feel comfortable doing that.

“We’re all working together, so it’s never a matter of me stepping in.”

The foundations of Hearts mini-revival have been built on making the team hard to beat and Levein admits the players are recording personal best fitness stats in training after Daly conceded the squad were not in the optimal shape under Cathro.

He added: “You work as hard as you can and I will support everybody to the end.

“For me it’s simple. Our supporters expect the team to give everything they have got and if they do, and even if we lose, I will have no complaints.

“The players have worked really hard, their fitness numbers were the highest again on Tuesday. 

“We’ve had some muscle injuries but we’ve had people exceeding their previous efforts so that’s a small price to pay for getting this team working.

“It is my belief that you have to do the work hard on the training ground – physically and not just the technical side – as that enables players to run harder, stronger and quicker than the opposition.

“Sometimes when you do that and don’t play well you can still win.”