Levein: More to Scottish Cup final than Celtic’s history bid
Hearts boss Craig Levein has stressed that the William Hill Scottish Cup final is about much more than Celtic’s bid for the domestic triple treble.
Much of the focus on Saturday’s game at Hampden Park has been on the Parkhead club’s bid to win the clean sweep for the third successive season, an unprecedented achievement.
However, Levein, confident that midfielders Peter Haring (groin) and Arnaud Djoum (Achilles) and striker Uche Ikpeazu (hamstring) will be fit, reminded everyone at the pre-match press conference that the Gorgie club are every bit as keen to win the trophy for the first time since 2012.
Speaking at the national stadium, he had his response ready for talk about Celtic’s aim.
He said: ‘We are going for the single single.
It is just as important to us.
‘We have recent history of beating Celtic and I feel that the preparation for the game, especially getting those players back, makes me feel better.
‘The proof will be in the pudding of course but we can beat Celtic, we have proven that.
‘We have got a big occasion in us, I am certain of that.
It is just about all of us bringing our A-game and possibly having a rub of the green as well, that will be needed.
‘I have tremendous for respect for a team who has been as successful as Celtic have been.
‘As much as they have more money than other teams that doesn’t always mean you can have a clean sweep of all the trophies.
‘There are things that can help us but I am not really thinking about Celtic not getting a treble treble.
‘I am thinking about becoming heroes or legends or whatever term you would like to use for a team that wins the Scottish Cup.
That is our focus and motivation.
‘ Levein, 54, is also desperate to win his first trophy as a player or manager.
The former Scotland, Dundee United and Leicester boss said: ‘I have been close on numerous occasions and of course everyone involved in football management wants to look back with pride on winning this type of accolade or award and I am no different.
‘It is an opportunity for me as well as the players to get my hands on the cup.
‘It is a huge thing for me and I would love to be talking to you after the game on Saturday having lifted the trophy.
‘ Haring, Ikpeazu and Djoum all missed Sunday’s 2-1 league defeat by Celtic at Parkhead on the last day of the Ladbrokes Premiership season where midfielder Olly Lee picked up an knee injury which rules him out.
The former Hearts defender said: ‘I am confident that everyone we were worried about – other than Steven Naismith and Olly Lee who picked up an injury against Celtic – have done enough to make me think they can be useful.
‘I still haven’t got a definitive team in my head because I need to look at some of those players who haven’t played or haven’t trained an awful lot.
‘I am not certain that they will all last 90 minutes and the game might go on longer than that so I need to manage that that side of things carefully.
‘ Levein admits he is looking at all options in terms of team selection and tactics.
He said: ‘It is part of the job, to try to use each of the players in the best way possible.
‘Considering how much energy they have is very important.
‘There are various different scenarios which could happen within the match and the best thing is to have a plan for all of those things.
So that’s what we are trying to do at this moment in time.’