Hearts boss Craig Levein lavishes praise on St Johnstone counterpart for building ‘six-bedroom house’ instead of ‘cottage’



Hearts manager Craig Levein has lavished praise on Tommy Wright for building a ‘six-bedroom house’ at St Johnstone when his budget dictated he should only have been able to construct a modest ‘cottage’.

The Tynecastle club will bid to collect their first win over Saints in nine games when the Perth outfit travel to Murrayfield for tomorrow’s Premiership fixture.

Wright, who replaced Steve Lomas in summer 2013, has masterminded three successive top four finishes and the 2014 Scottish Cup triumph.

Former Scotland manager Levin admits he has been immensely impressed by how the Northern Irishman has constantly overachieved at a club who struggle to attract crowds in excess of 5,000.

He said: “He is fantastic. St Johnstone, for me, are like Dunfermline, Falkirk, Raith Rovers and all those other clubs who are languishing in lower leagues. And I put that down to Tommy.

“The crowds at St Johnstone are on a par with the other teams I have mentioned but the fact that he is at St Johnstone means they have been in the top six year on year on year and in Europe year on year.

“Okay, there’s been a really good couple of managers before him, admittedly, and they’ve maybe built the foundations.

“But he’s certainly put up a six-bedroom house rather than a cottage.

“One of the big things about them is their determination and their grit and their ability to win points when they are not at their best.

“Tommy has outdone anybody with regard to having his team playing above a level that possibly the budget would dictate.”

Levein’s only concern for Wright is that he does not become a victim of his own success, and has cited Alan Curbishley’s departure at Charlton in 2006 as a warning to any greedy supporters.

He added: “I think he’s done a remarkable job. The danger is expectations, he’s done so many good things in a period of time and it’s really difficult to keep that going.

“If I was to give advice to any young manager; whatever league you’re in, finish ninth. Next year finish eighth, then seventh, then sixth and it keeps you in a job.

“When I speak about this, my mind always goes back to Alan Curbishley at Charlton.

“He took them up through the leagues to the Premier League, they finished in the top half and they got rid of him because they needed somebody to take them to the next level, which was two divisions below the one they were in.

“When you get up there and are constantly fighting against the odds and the longer you stay up there, people take it for granted.

“That’s something that’s grossly unfair. There are some managers who have done remarkable jobs at clubs but the expectation that is set is not always realistic.”

Saturday’s visit of St Johnstone marks the start of a three-game run that includes a trip to city rivals Hibs on Tuesday and a visit of Rangers to the home of Scottish rugby the following weekend.

Levein, however, insists history has taught him to manage each match on it’s own merits.

He added: “I won’t look at the Hibs game until after St Johnstone game has finished.

“I know from experience that there is no point in looking further ahead.

“I’ve done it in the past. I tried to figure it all out and thought ‘I will play him in this game but I will keep him for the next one’ and I have never had any success when I have done it that way.”