HEARTS boss Craig Levein is adamant a 3-1 defeat against Rangers is not a sign that the Jambos’ Premiership campaign is destined to fizzle out.
The capital club were well below-par at Tynecastle, with their first-half showing particularly lamentable.
Goals from Jermain Defoe and Ryan Jack gave the Glasgow giants a comfortable lead at the break, while the hosts were jeered from the field.
Nikola Katic then ended the match as a contest six minutes into the second period before Steven MacLean’s late consolation.
Levein, who lost Sean Clare through illness prior to kick-off and was without Peter Haring due to a groin issue, was irked by his side’s failure to implement his pressing game from the outset.
But denied the performance was indicative of a pre-Scottish Cup final malaise setting in.
“I don’t think we will switch off before the cup final,” said Levein. “We’ve got a lot to play for between now and then. The players have got places to play for.
“I’m quite clear on what caused the performance, particularly in the first half, and it’s something we can do something about. I’m not obviously concerned.
“We need to work on our pressing. As a team we sat out to press Rangers high up the field – but we didn’t get it right. It obviously doesn’t help that we shot ourselves in the foot by giving Rangers two really silly goals, but the pressing was nowhere near good enough.
“We were better in the second half but the way we pressed in the first half wasn’t good enough to cause Rangers any problems.”
Levein has no qualms about the fans making their feelings known, especially when the half-time whistle blew, but believes next Sunday’s Edinburgh derby is the perfect opportunity to appease the punters.
“I was well unhappy as half-time approached as well. It was a hell of a frustrating half!” added Levein.
“The fans are the same as me – frustrated when we don’t play well. I’ve no issue with the fans letting us know when we are not playing well. I think that is part of their duty. I’m just as unhappy as those guys.
“We need to do better to make the fans happy, that’s the priority, and next week is a real chance to do that.”