Christophe Berra insists Hearts are on the up under Craig Levein – but reckons his team-mates will be in for a shock if they make him angry.
The captain was handed his debut by Levein in 2003 during his first stint at Tynecastle and has not forgotten how fearsome the former Scotland manager’s dressing room rants were.
Since replacing Ian Cathro, Levein has been delighted with the players reaction after picking up a hard-fought victory at Hamilton last weekend following an encouraging goal-less draw with Aberdeen.
Hearts will bid to maintain their momentum at Partick Thistle today and Scotland internationalist Berra is planning to avoid the hairdryer treatment for as long as possible.
Berra said: “At the moment because we played well against Aberdeen and Hamilton it has all been hunky dory.
“But I am sure when we don’t reach the standards he expects we’ll know all about it.
“I have still to see that, but I have seen it in the past so we know we can’t afford to drop our standards.
“We’ve had jokes about it in the changing room and it’s something that some of them have not experienced it yet, it’s maybe only me and Prince (Buaben)
“I’d like to see some of the faces when it happens. I might be on the end of it, you have to take it on the chin.
“When I look back at 18, 19 you feel maybe undone but when I look back now it was really good for you, it was a learning curve and probably made me the person I am.”
Berra insists Levein and Mick McCarthy, the manager he played under at Wolves and Ipswich are similar in their approach.
He added: “Craig and Mick were both centre halves, they know what it means, if you can dominate your striker it gives you a foothold towards winning the game.
“If they’re having a bad day it’s good for you.
“You learn a lot from them – but they can also be your biggest critics.
“That’s something you need to take on the chin.
“The older and more experienced you get, if you do get slaughtered sometimes you don’t get too down about it.”
Berra is aware that the Hearts manager’s ‘back to basics’ approach could be construed as being outdated but the 32-year-old admits he is happy to adhere to any style as long as it produces winning performances.
He added: “As a defender he just wants us to do the basics, head it, put tackles in, get our blocks in.
“That’s not just the defenders, that’s over the whole pitch.
“In Scotland you have to be competitive first and foremost, win the first contacts and the second balls and if you do that well you’ve always got a chance to win the game.
“I made my debut under the manager and look at all the defenders who have worked under him, your job first and foremost is to defend.
“I wouldn’t say he was old school. Sometimes you get fashions in football.
“You look down at the Premier League and there are certain things in fashion and teams are all expansive.
“But Arsenal have been doing that for years and they’re struggling just now.
“Then you look at a Burnley who certainly aren’t all expansive, and I think you have got to work within your means.
“Celtic are expansive but they have paid big money for certain players and they have that quality.
“Everyone has their own style. We’re not a Barcelona or a Real Madrid and even then they need to do the basics right because if you don’t do that against the bigger teams you get caught.”