ANN BUDGE’S statement backing under-fire Hearts manager Craig Levein has gone down like a ‘lead balloon’ with supporters, according to one fans’ chief.
Steve Kilgour insists he has been a massive backer of Levein ever since his days as a player at Tynecastle but believes the embattled Jambos hero should have brought his second managerial stint to a close following last Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Motherwell.
But, with Hearts owner and chief executive Budge handing Levein a vote of confidence in the wake of protests outside the ground last weekend, Kilgour believes defeat to bitter rivals Hibs in Sunday’s Edinburgh derby should be the point of no return for the former Scotland boss.
And he reckons had it not been for the 54-year-old’s legendary status, Levein – who is also director of football at the club – would have been ‘hounded out’ a long time ago.
Kilgour, general secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters’ Clubs, said: “I find it hard because I’m a huge Craig Levein fan and have been since his playing days, and I stuck up for him through his time with Scotland.
“But after recent performances, there’s no way I can defend him much longer.
“The feedback I’ve been getting is Ann Budge’s statement has not gone down well at all, it’s gone down like a lead balloon, to be honest.
“A lot of fans took umbrage at her saying ‘genuine fans’, what does she mean by that? Again, Ann has done fantastically well since she came in, but on this occasion she would have been better saying nothing.
“Sunday is now critical. If we don’t win on Sunday it doesn’t bear thinking about.
“We’ve got a run of games up to the next international break and if things are still the same there then something really, really has to be done by then.
“The problem is when you’ve got legends – as such – as managers, emotions get involved and nobody likes slaughtering guys who have been their heroes when they were growing up.
“I think that’s what has bought him so much time. If this was any other manager he would have been hounded out long, long ago.
“It’s sad to say, but I think Craig on Monday should have walked in and said to Ann ‘I’m going back upstairs’.
“He believes he can turn it around and he may well be able to turn around at some point in time, but it’s not happening right now and I would say the vast majority of the supporters don’t believe him.”