New Hearts boss Craig Levein insists Rangers target Jamie Walker had promises broken – and lavishes praise on Aberdeen



New Hearts manager Craig Levein has suggested that Rangers broke promises made to Jamie Walker over their failed attempt to sign the playmaker during the transfer window.

The Ibrox club had three bids turned down for the 24-year-old, with the Gorgie outfit holding out for £1 million.

Rangers’ well-documented pursuit of Walker even unsettled the player, with the attacking midfielder being left out of the team at the start of the season after being said to lose focus.

Walker in action against Rangers

And as Levein prepares to return to the dugout against Premiership leaders Aberdeen at Murrayfield, the former Scotland manager admits he has not been impressed by how their Glasgow counterparts have conducted themselves.

Levein said: “I don’t want to go into too much detail but if I was Jamie I’d be a little bit disappointed that a lot of the promises that were made to him weren’t kept. And not from our club.

“I can understand it, he’s had a disappointment.

“I don’t know how many times as a player here I heard Liverpool had made a bid or Tottenham had made a bid but you just get on with it.

“I think that’s important, any player has to keep their focus on what they are doing, because once you start drifting away and thinking about other things it affects your performance.

“Jamie has trained excellently, he really has. He even made a couple of tackles on Tuesday.”


Levein enjoyed a successful spell in the Hearts dugout for four years up until 2004 and admits he will revert to basics in the first instance in an attempt to trigger an upturn in the team’s fortunes.

Ian Cathro was sacked as head coach after overseeing a meagre eight wins from 30 matches, while caretaker manager Jon Daly guided the side to one victory from the first four matches of this term.

Levein added: “It’s about not over-complicating things. Making the training a little bit simpler – until everybody feels they know what they’re doing.

“Once they reach that point and get their confidence, we can start again.

“It will take another couple of weeks just to flatten everything out. But we don’t have two weeks to wait before we play a game.

“So we need to patch something together for Saturday and see how we get on.

“We need to fix some things. We lack a little bit of confidence just now.

“Everything at the moment is a thought process, rather than just off the cuff.

“So we need to get to a point where people are just playing – and not thinking too much.”

Hearts take on an Aberdeen side that sit at the top-flight summit having won their four opening games, despite losing the likes of Niall McGinn and Jonny Hayes during the summer.

Levein believes the Derek McInnes’ side, who have finished runners-up in the league for the past three seasons, are arguably stronger than last term.

He added: “I’m a huge admirer of Derek and I actually like him, he’s a decent fella.

“He’s done a remarkable job.

“The interesting thing for me is they are in transition as well.

“If you look at the players who moved on in the summer you could argue the players they have brought in are better, whether the fit is right with what they were doing previously, I don’t know.

“It’s a huge credit to them that while they are doing that they are winning games.

“That for me tells a big story.

“Over the last three or four years they have built themselves up to a point where they were challenging, in Europe every year.

“And they were just at that point of just about getting through to the group stages.

“And I think they have either taken a big leap forward to try and progress that side of things, but the domestic game doesn’t change.

“So Derek must be confident he can both these things. And if anybody can do it, it’s him.”

Levein oversaw a UEFA Cup match against Braga at the 67,100 capacity Murrayfield stadium during the latter stages of his reign and insists a temporary return to the home of Scottish rugby while their new main stand is being constructed does not concern him.

He added: “I’ve got good memories of it, altough I must admit I can’t remember much about it. But the stadium is fantastic.

“Aberdeen have sold a lot of tickets and we have too. There will be over 20,000 reaching up to about 25,000, which is a fantastic place to be and I believe they’ve cordened off the top half of the stadium.

“So the atmosphere should be good. Aberdeen have always brought a really good travelling support to Tynecastle and they’ll be very vocal, I’m sure. I know our supporters will be as well.”