FORMER Hearts manager Craig Levein has hit out at fans of the Tynecastle club who vandalised their own stadium in protest against current boss Robbie Neilson, saying he would be ‘p***ed off’ if he was receiving the level of abuse that Neilson is being subjected to.

A crude message calling for Neilson to be sacked was scrawled on the Hearts badge that adorns Foundation Plaza outside the Tynecastle Main Stand following the club’s weekend defeat to Kilmarnock, their fifth loss in their last six matches in all competitions.

But while Levein understands frustrations with the current run of poor form, he says it is ‘stupid’ to vandalise the stadium of what is, after all, a fan-owned club.

READ MORE: Neilson accuses Hearts players of being 'weak & bullied' by Kilmarnock

“It’s nonsense, honestly,” Levein said.

“Nobody understands better how important people’s football clubs are to them than I do. I’ve got the same passion for Hearts that supporters have. And there are ways of displaying your displeasure, if you want to put it that way. 

“All that stuff, you could say the supporters themselves have paid for it. It’s crazy. You would never get angry and spray paint your own house, would you? It doesn’t make sense. It’s just stupid. 

“There’s an element of supporters [who haven’t taken to Robbie Neilson] – and this was apparent the last time [he was manager].

“I’m not putting words in his mouth, but I honestly think one of the reasons he left the last time was that he wasn’t getting appreciated for what he’d done. 

“Every human being wants to be appreciated if they do a good job. I don’t feel there was an element of the Hearts supporters who did.”

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Despite thinking the treatment he received from Hearts fans during his first tenure may have led to Neilson walking out on the job, he doesn’t think he will bow to pressure from his critics this time around.

“I don’t know, he’s got a thick skin,” he said. “It’s just disappointing. 

“There are so many good things going at Hearts just now. They’ve sold out their season tickets, guys like [director] James Anderson are involved. There are good people there. 

READ MORE: Derek McInnes hails heroic Killie effort to hang in against Hearts

“They’re just having a little bit of a wobble. And that happens. You can have a thick skin, but it doesn’t mean you can completely ignore everything. I haven’t spoken to Robbie. I’m just observing. I would be p***ed off.

“I genuinely don’t know [why some fans don’t like him]. He was a really good player for Hearts.  

“It’s not a lot of people but it doesn’t have to be. You only need one person to write something on the plaza outside the stadium. And you only need one person to hire a plane. 

“There will be more than one, of course, but I don’t know how many there are. For me, it seems like the best Robbie can hope for is for them to be quiet.”


*Craig Levein was speaking to promote The eScottish Football Cup, taking place at Hampden Park over 20th/21st May, with up to 75 clubs from across the country competing for a prize pool of £50,000.