Former Hearts boss Alex MacDonald looking forward to seeing old team-mates lock horns

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Former Hearts manager Alex MacDonald admits he loved having Craig Levein and John Robertson in his team.

However, MacDonald reckons that the former team-mates will not enjoy going up against each other in the dugout in tomorrow’s Scottish Cup semi-final between the Gorgie club and Inverness.

MacDonald spent nine years in the Tynecastle dugout until 1990 and worked with the pair during that time, including the season when Hearts came within seven minutes of clinching the top-fight title in 1986.

Current Hearts boss Levein became formidable defender in that era, while Robertson laid the foundations in becoming the club’s all-time leading goal scorer.

But MacDonald believes a once-close relationship on the pitch makes the dynamics of Saturday’s Hampden clash more awkward for the pair.

He said: “It will be interesting, the two of them are very competitive and have been about so they have plenty of experience behind them now.

“I’m looking forward to it, sometimes it’s not nice playing against your pals but everything has to be serious, it’s your livelihood and it has to be taken very seriously.

“Without doubt they were natural winners. 

“Robbo, coming from Edinburgh, you had to make sure your won otherwise you couldn’t enjoy your pint. Craig will be the same, it’s a very difficult one.

“I would not be surprised if Craig and Robbo are winding each other up in the build up, wee Robbo is kind of a talkative chappy. 

“It’s all in the 90 minutes, one of them will be disappointed but as long as your team gives you 100 per cent you can’t complain.”

While Robertson was already at Hearts when MacDonald joined initially as a player in 1980, the 71-year-old signed Levein from Cowdenbeath three years later.

MacDonald oversaw an upturn in the team’s fortunes on the pitch following three relegations in five seasons prior to his appointment and Hearts even reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1989.

MacDonald admits Levein and Robertson were pivotal players during that spell.

He added: “It was a really good team, I thoroughly enjoyed my time. I was ten years at Tynecastle and we went through a lot of players just to get it going but once we did it was great.

“Craig and John were without doubt among the outstanding players who did well in that time. 

“The goals that Robbo score were fantastic and Craig had so much pace it was untrue. 

“It was a great combination at the back with big Dave McPherson and then Sandy Jardine behind them. 

“You take pride in seeing your former players going on to have successful managerial careers, there’s no doubt about that. 

“At least they were learning and listening, listening is a big thing in football.”

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