EVERY decision that Ann Budge makes is taken with Hearts’ best interests in mind. That is why Craig Levein will back her on everything from football to fans as she continues to lead her way and on her say.

On Thursday, Budge announced that she was closing down an area of Tynecastle in an attempt to eradicate the supporter misbehaviour that has tarnished Hearts’ reputation.

Come Saturday, all the focus was back on the park as Levein’s side moved into the Scottish Cup final with a 3-0 victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Hampden.

It is the first final that Hearts have reached since Budge saved the club from the ruinous grasps of Vladimir Romanov. For Levein, it was further proof the Jambos are very much in safe hands once again.

“Everything she’s done and still doing,” Levein said. “I spoke in the lead-up to this game about where the club is now compared to five years ago and it’s incredible, the progress that’s been made.

“Most people tend to judge progress on what goes on out on the park and that isn’t always the best indicator. From the moment Ann asked me to come back here she talked about long-term planning and getting the club to a place where we can regularly compete at the top end of the league and in cup finals.

“We’ve done well in that respect this year but the good thing for me is that underneath everything’s working like clockwork and that the club’s on the up. As a result of that the stuff out on the park will be right, I’m confident of that.”

Days like the one Budge experienced at Hampden are the positive side of the role she has immersed herself in. But tough decisions have had to be made in recent times.

Her leadership and swift action to address the scourge of abhorrent behaviour are to be commended. It has come as no surprise to Levein.

“I’m one of the directors and sometimes these decision have been talked about at length,” he said. “We’ve had lots of problems in the past and I quite like Ann’s style in that she warns people that the consequences of misbehaving are this.

“I’ve been in clubs before where they’ve warned people and nothing’s happened. My thing is this - I don’t understand why, if you go into a section that’s constantly causing trouble, why you’d want to be there.

“It absolutely spoils the experience for the rest of the fans. The thing about her is she follows through on her promises. That consistency can only be a good thing for the club.

“I’m a director so I’m party to the things that lead up to it. This has been talked about for a long, long time at board level. And it gets to the point where Ann says, ‘We’re doing it’. She makes the decisions.

“The good, sensible supporters aren’t hugely affected by this. There maybe are some people in that area who have done nothing at all, but I don’t understand why you’d want to sit in there if you’re there just to watch the match. But she’s followed through on what she said she’d do.”

The fall-out and ramifications from the Edinburgh derby defeat to Hibernian will continue on and off the park but both could be put to one side on Saturday afternoon.

Hearts were sluggish in the first half but more stylish in the second and goals from Uche Ikpeazu, John Souttar and Sean Clare earned them a deserved victory at Hampden.

Five more matches must be played in the Premiership, but there is no doubt what fixture stands out now.

Levein said: “There will be players desperately keen to be involved in the final. But we’ve still got a lot to play for. We’ve still got a chance of getting into Europe through the league.

“We’ll have to be really good between now and the end of the season. But, if we can do that and be as good as we can be, we go into the cup final feeling in form.

“So I don’t want to just think about the cup final and the rest in between is a hindrance.

“It’s really important that we get to the cup final by winning the matches coming up now.

“It’s been one of the more interesting seasons, for sure. All I want is the best for the club. Simple as that.

“I’ve poured four-and-a-half years of my life, in this last period, in trying to build the club back up to where I think we can get to.

“Obviously there are moments in there that I feel proud of. And this will be another one.”

The players that saw off Caley Thistle at the weekend will hope that they have a head start in the battle for a starting jersey come the final at the National Stadium next month.

But there is one that didn’t feature in the semi-final who could still have his own shot at glory.

A knee injury has kept Steven Naismith out of action for some time but the striker now has an extra week, and an added motivation, to aim for as he looks to return this term.

Levein said: “I don’t know. I could say he has a chance... The way I look at it is, if he’s fit, it will be a huge bonus for us. So I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket by saying he’s going to be fit. I’d rather expect him not to be fit.

“Him being fit won’t be a disappointment. If I put the onus on him being fit and he isn’t, that would be a big disappointment.

“It’s about wanting to keep my head clear for all the games coming up, not constantly thinking: ‘I hope Naisy’s back next week, I hope he’s back next week, next week...’

“It does give him something to aim for and he’ll be doing his best to make the final, for sure.”