Christophe Berra refutes suggestions Hearts are long-ball merchants under Craig Levein


HEARTS captain Christophe Berra has refuted suggestions that the Jambos are reliant on route one football under Craig Levein.

While the Scotland international acknowledges that the capital club seeks to utilise the physical attributes of hulking marksman Uche Ikpeazu, he insists they are no more dependant on the Englishman than, for example, Aberdeen are on Sam Cosgrove.

And Berra believes much of the criticism comes from a pre-conceived notion of Levein’s style.

(Pic: Hearts TV)

The efficacity of Hearts under the former national team boss was thrown into sharp relief once more on Saturday after the men in maroon slipped to a dismal 3-1 reverse against Rangers.

But Berra said: “I wonder if that perception is just something which comes along with the gaffer [Levein].

“It [direct football] is not our aim. Yes, it’s an asset at times, but people’s views can be skewed with a view of our manager, which is not necessarily correct.

“I’m sure Aberdeen play plenty of long balls up to their big man up front [Cosgrove].

“Like most teams, in the first five or 10 minutes against the bigger teams at Tynecastle, you want to put pressure onto teams and the big man [Ikpeazu] can be hard to handle.

“But it’s not all we go out to do.”

Rangers were out of sight within 51 minutes at Tynecastle, with goals from Jermain Defoe, Ryan Jack and Nikola Katic ensuring they would head back along the M8 with all three points.

Steven MacLean’s consolation cut little ice with the home supporters, who jeered their side from the pitch following a fourth defeat in their last five Premiership outings.

Berra continued: “If you don’t win games, it’s natural to get stick.

“It’d be the same if it was Ibrox, Pittodrie, Parkhead, Easter Road; no matter what ground you play in the country, the fans are not going to be cheering you off if you are 2-0 down at half-time!

“Tynecastle expects a certain type of play and we just couldn’t reach the standards.”

Hearts’ attention will now turn to assuaging the Jambos’ hurt by claiming a victory in next Sunday’s Edinburgh derby against Hibs.

They will be seeking to replicate their heroics in December, when an Olly Lee wonder-strike secured a 1-0 win in Leith.

Berra added: “We have good memories of our last time there [Easter Road] and we will be going out to do the same thing again.”