Hearts: Former manager Craig Levein regrets his dual role – BBC News

Hearts fans held protests against Levein outside Tynecastle in the final weeks of his tenure

Craig Levein admits he “had bitten off more than I could chew” at Hearts by not giving up his director of football post when he became manager.

The former Scotland boss began his second spell at Tynecastle after Ian Cathro’s exit in August 2017.

Levein was removed from both roles last October with Hearts ultimately relegated in May when the Scottish Premiership was curtailed.

“It proved to be extremely difficult for me,” Levein said.

“Particularly when we had problems on the field. Now, looking back on it, it’s easy to say that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew trying to do both jobs at the same time.

“Going back, would I have taken the job again? I probably would, but I would have given up my director of football role. I found that when things were difficult, it was extremely difficult to do both jobs.”

Hearts had one league win and were only above the foot of the table on goal difference when Levein was dismissed last season and his replacement, the former Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel, was unable to turn things around as the Edinburgh club finished in bottom spot.

Levein cited an “unprecedented” number of injuries to key players as the problem, with Steven Naismith, John Souttar and Uche Ikpeazu all spending time on the sidelines.

The 55-year-old left Tynecastle last week after seeing out the remainder of his contract behind the scenes.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Scottish Football podcast, he added: “I can’t put my hands up and say that I’m not responsible in any way.

“I do feel that if I had stayed in place then we wouldn’t be in the league position we are in, because we had good players coming back from injury.”

Questioned on his recruitment record, Levein said: “At the start of the season, everybody was saying it was the best squad Hearts had in a long time.

“[Due to injuries] a lot of the time the pressure was falling on the shoulders of players who didn’t have that experience or character to be able to deal with it.”

‘I look back on my time fondly’

The final weeks of Levein’s tenure was marked by vociferous criticism and protests from Hearts fans, and he apologised to frustrated supporters, but added he remains “extremely proud” of his work on the club’s youth structure.

“I have no problem with people inside the stadium voicing their anger,” he said. “I’m not going to complain about anything any Hearts supporter has said to me. I’ve had hundreds of goodwill messages from Hearts supporters as well.

“I’m extremely sorry for the position Hearts supporters find themselves in just now, but I can say I did my best. I will look back on my time fondly, with some fantastic memories.

“And I think the benefits of the performance school we put in place at Balerno will see great players emerge, which will help Hearts going forward. Maybe then some of the Hearts supporters might forgive me.”

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