Hearts manager Craig Levein refused to entertain criticising Celtic players after the Scottish Cup final at Hampden on Saturday.
It was heartbreak for the Jambos, who looked set up to contain Celtic for 90 minutes. They shocked the system when Ryan Edwards fired them 1-0 ahead just after half-time, but an Odsonne Edouard brace for the Hoops ensured the treble treble was secured.
As was expected, a few moans from the Hearts camp have occurred since full-time. Goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal claimed Edouard dived for the penalty that gave Celtic an equaliser (Daily Record). Captain Christophe Berra was next to have a pop today when he said that Scott Brown lacked class in his post-match celebrations (The Scotsman).
But despite that, Levein wasn’t interested in joining in with the moaning. Speaking at his post-match press conference via Superscoreboard (25th May, 1:27:10), Levein said the following on the game:
“It’s very difficult of me to be critical of anybody. They all tried ever so hard to implement the game-plan, did the running they needed to do, and showed good composure in decent areas. I feel extremely disappointed for everyone associated with the club.
“I haven’t seen it (the penalty award). Bobby (Zlamal) did say that he came out and hesitated, and that was one of the biggest problems. He felt if he kept going he might have been able to get to the ball.
“Listen, the lads said Edouard might’ve saw it coming but that’s football. I’m not going to sit here after that game and criticise the referee at all, and I’m not going to sit and criticise the Celtic players.”
Classy and dignified
Levein and Celtic have had their run-ins, but considering the occasion on Saturday, this was a classy response. How easy it would’ve been to jump on the bandwagon of pretending Hearts had been robbed.
The one thing Levein was keen to pick up on for the penalty decision was the faults of his own goalkeeper. He feels that Zlamal should’ve come out and claimed the ball. He’s not interested in just jumping on any bandwagon to criticise Edouard. It’s such a composed and dignified response.
Celtic on the day were just too good and clinical for Hearts. Levein clearly understands that, and wasn’t in the mood for petty squabbling over decisions post-match.
Hearts simply didn’t do enough to hurt the Celtic back-line, and only really created the one genuine goalscoring opportunity that they took. Levein can be proud of his players for sticking to the game-plan, but he’s man enough to admit they were still a fair bit from victory.
Say what you want about the former Scotland manager. But on this occasion, he proved a class-act with his post-match verdict.