Heckingbottom and Levein feeling the heat ahead of Edinburgh derby
Both sides have endured poor starts to the season.
Both managers are under major scrutiny heading into Sunday’s Edinburgh derby, but Paul Heckingbottom is looking forward to seeing how his Hibernian players cope with the pressure.
Both Hibs and Hearts are languishing in the bottom four of the Ladbrokes Premiership ahead of their Easter Road clash.
Heckingbottom enjoyed an impressive start to life in Scotland after succeeding Neil Lennon in February, leading Hibs on a charge to the top six while going unbeaten in his first 10 league games.
They lost their last three games of the season, though, and have taken only four points from five matches this term.
Heckingbottom branded his team “soft” after their recent 3-0 defeat by Motherwell and they followed that up with a 2-0 loss at Kilmarnock.
Six of Heckingbottom’s summer signings started on the bench at Rugby Park, but he welcomed the chance to discover more about his players in Sunday’s high-stakes showdown with their city rivals.
He told Hibs TV: “I’d play one every week, I enjoy the games, I enjoy the atmospheres of them. I think they are great.
“And to be honest, I am pleased it’s the next one.
“When I am going to put it on the players and really question them, we are going to learn a lot about them.”
While some Hibs fans have called for Heckingbottom’s exit already, Hearts manager Craig Levein is under more intense pressure.
Hundreds of supporters protested outside Tynecastle on Saturday after a 3-2 defeat by Motherwell left Hearts bottom of the table with two points.
Levein has presided over two sixth-placed finishes, and a run to last season’s William Hill Scottish Cup final, and sustained injury problems are no longer cutting him any slack with a significant portion of fans.
The former Scotland manager – who is also on the Hearts board – admitted his players were hampered by a shortage of confidence against Motherwell.
And he warned they could not afford to wallow in self-pity ahead of their trip to Leith.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves next weekend,” he told Hearts TV. “The game is too big for that. We need to just get our head down and work away on the training ground and eliminate those errors.
“We just need to defend better and make less mistakes. The first goal was a set-piece, the second goal was a cross-field pass that got cut out, and the third goal was a misunderstanding between Sean (Clare) and Colin Doyle.
“It wasn’t a situation where Motherwell have had to be good to score, we have kind of gifted them some goals.”