Hearts captain Christophe Berra has hit back at Brendan Rodgers over his pitch criticism, and insists the Gorgie outfit do not face a level playing field every time they face Celtic.
Rodgers claimed he was ‘embarrassed’ with the surface as Hearts deliberately left the grass longer in a bid to stifle the Hoops’ normal passing game on Sunday.
The visitors still managed to overcome the conditions to earn a 3-1 victory and exact revenge for last December’s 4-0 defeat that ended their record-breaking 69-game uneaten run.
Scotland defender Christophe Berra, however, insists the hosts were well within their rights to try anything to knock Celtic off their stride.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “Celtic are champions for a reason and we need to take it to our advantage.
“The pitch was not great when we played them before at Tynecastle and on Sunday the grass was long and dry and they got the victory and that’s why they’re champions.
“You’re not going to have it nice and slick for Celtic with their top players.
“At the moment, we’re not at a place to be competing with Celtic at that level.
“Celtic, financially, they’re miles ahead of us, squad-wise they’re champions for a reason.They’ve got a great manager and great players and you can’t take that away from them.
“If you look at our bench we’ve got a lot of young, inexperienced players and they’re bringing on Scott Sinclair, (Patrick) Roberts and Stuart Armstrong – players who are internationalists and could play in the Premier league.
“We’re bringing on 16 17 years-olds and that’s the gulf in difference.”
Berra, meanwhile, as dismissed Hibs head coach Neil Lennon’s claims that Hearts are ‘irrelevant’ as the fierce Edinburgh rivals prepare to face each other at Tynecastle tomorrow evening.
Lennon made the comment after seeing his side win 2-0 in March’s clash in Leith.
The defeat all but ended Hearts’ hopes of catching fourth place Hibs, who remain in the hunt for second with two games left to play
Berra said: “That’s football talk, rivals and just getting headlines.
“We’ll take that with a pinch of salt.
“Hibs have been really good, Neil Lennon and his team have got a lot of credit and rightly so.
“We’ve been very inconsistent, especially away from home; a lot of things have happened on and off the pitch, which can’t be helped.
“Next season is a new one, football swings in roundabouts and it’s about how you start next season.
“You need to make sure you start well and hopefully on our behalf it can remembered for the good things.”
Sunday’s defeat to Celtic was Hearts’ first league set-back in Tynecastle for a year but Berra admits they must improve their woeful away form next season.
He added: “We know how good we are at Tynecastle and that’s not the problem really.
“It’s our away record that’s been at fault for a long time and we need to do something about it.
“It’s a derby and to win against your rivals, you want to finish the season on a high and there would be no better way to do that than beating Hibs in your last home game.
“It will be a tough task but you never what can happen on the night.”