Chris McLaughlin's words of the weekend: 'Irked' Levein sends message to Hearts squad
BBC Scotland's senior football reporter, Chris McLaughlin, analyses a talking point from the weekend's action, asking what's behind the words.
|Craig Levein speaking after goalless daw with Aberdeen|
|"A lot of things pleased me but we didn't get the three points and that irks me."|
The eyebrows that were raised at Craig Levein's appointment had long since settled when he took to the dugout at Murrayfield for his first game back in charge of the club he simply can't stay away from.
He admitted before the goalless draw against Aberdeen to being a little nervous, which was perhaps strange - the stadium was unfamiliar but the club, the players and the manager's jacket most certainly were not.
We chatted for some time when he was announced as Ian Cathro's successor and I remember thinking at the time he seemed a little uneasy.
"I just need to keep winning," he said after the photographers had had their fill on the Tynecastle pitch and we wandered around looking at the progress of the new main stand.
"If I don't, we all know what happens."
Simple and obvious words perhaps, but also a reflection of the pragmatic approach he takes to the game.
Managers almost always look for the positives in post-match interviews. As the man holding the microphone, it's as predictable as the final whistle.
Given Hearts' display against a side who were flying high at the top of the league, the new manager didn't have to look hard but the players basking in the warm glow of his praise should also beware. This is a man with high expectations and his admission at being irked with just a draw against a very good Aberdeen side is the evidence if any was needed.
He also was quick to point out the occasion got to his players in the first half - welcome honesty and a simple message from Levein to his squad that there will be no hiding place if they don't give him what he wants. Some will rise to it and others won't - that is inevitable.
When Ian Cathro, the head coach sacked by Hearts on 1 August, came down the tunnel to do interviews after a match, you never knew what you were going to get. Win, lose or draw there was no predicting his mood or answers.
His discomfort doing interviews was often palpable and I believe it was a factor in his downfall. The fans never really bought into his unorthodox explanations and often combative approach. In this regard, Levein is a steady hand.
The former Scotland boss has admitted he is not overly keen on media duties but he's experienced enough to know how to handle them. In previous years he's been labelled as being rather thin skinned but show me a manager who enjoys being criticised when it's all going wrong. What you usually get from Levein is a candid assessment of the 90 minutes and that's all reporters and fans want.
The very early evidence is that Hearts have also got what they wanted in moving Levein from the boardroom to the dugout.
After the failure of the Cathro experiment the club craved stability. On the pitch, the point gained at the home of Scottish rugby suggests it's coming. In the interview room it's the same.
A familiar face and voice who knows what to say can calm the nerves of those who have had them stretched in recent months. As the nerves settle, the players need to step up.
An irked boss is rarely a happy boss - even when you are playing well.