Hearts head coach Craig Levein admits he is deliberately trying to wind up Hibs in the hope that their fierce Edinburgh rivals erupt like a volcano in tonight’s powder-keg clash.
Levein has refused to back down from his ‘natural order’ jibe in the wake of his team’s Scottish Cup victory over Neil Lennon’s side in January when Hearts picked up their first win in ten in the fiery fixture.
That remark did not go down well with former Celtic boss Lennon, who called it a ‘crook of c**p’.
But ex-Scotland boss Levein is hoping that his inflammatory comments rile the Leith side after claiming that the team that keeps their cool will have a better chance of succeeding at a sell-out Easter Road.
Levein, whose side are nine points behind fourth place Hibs, said: “My view on these games is that everybody tries their hardest. You are always just sitting below the volcano exploding.
“If there is some words exchanged that maybe push some people a bit closer to the edge then that is part of it as well.
“It’s who can control that the best. So I hope they are really uptight about it. That’s the way it goes.
“When Neil says he doesn’t know what it means, I am just trying to explain to him. For me, in this fixture, it is normal that we come out on top.
“Listen, it is just one big game. Isn’t it? It’s fun. It hurts when you go down to Easter Road and they win 1-0 and they are doing a lap of honour and people are tweeting stuff.
“It hurts but the only real way to fix it is to do it on the park. I think it’s important for our supporters.
“This game stands out on the calendar. I don’t think there will be any other fixture that the supporters will look at and say ‘when are we playing Celtic away?’ or ‘when are we playing St Johnstone at home?’
“People look for the fixture and plan things round about it because they want to be there. I like it. It’s a good feeling.
“The whole excitement leading up to it, the pressure on the day. It’s exciting.”
Levein, however, has taken exception to Lennon’s suggestion that the Old Firm clash between Celtic and Rangers is more intense than the Edinburgh equivalent.
The former Dundee United manager, whose side have dropped to sixth in the Premiership behind Kilmarnock following a run of four games in all competition without a victory, added: “It’s just more people. That’s all it is.
“When I was up at Dundee it was crazy at derby matches. Here it’s the same. It is just people.
“It’s just a cross section and the people who go to the game, the difference with the Old Firm is that the crowd is bigger.
“You try telling a Dundee United supporter that a Celtic supporter loves his club more. That’s just not true.
“All that happens is that the Old Firm game is big and attracts more interest but it is the same feelings.
“This is the same. This derby match means the same.”