Craig Levein ended a 69-game unbeaten Celtic and Brendan Rodgers run and St Johnstone boss believes the key to beating Celtic hasn’t changed

Craig Levein was the Hearts manager when Celtic’s famous 69-game unbeaten run was ended with a Tynecastle thrashing.

There’s no history to be made at McDiarmid Park on Sunday with his new club, St Johnstone.

But the foundations upon which a Premiership victory over the current Brendan Rodgers side would be built haven’t changed in the six years that have followed.

“It would be accurate to say that, most of the time, if you put up a really dogged and determined defensive display against the big teams you’ve got a chance,” said Levein.

“First of all of getting a draw.

“If you can manage to take advantage of any mistakes that Celtic make and score, then you’ve got a chance of winning.

“Those things need to happen.

“We need to play really well, be determined and dogged, cover every blade of grass and outrun and outfight Celtic.

“And there’s still a chance you might not win. But give me that every day of the week and I’ll be happy.”

Craig Levein is back on the touchline. Image: SNS.

Looking back on the 4-0 Hearts victory in 2017, Levein added: “Everything went right for us that day. And we did exactly the things I am talking about.

“We competed at a really high level and that enabled us to get a platform. We were able to get goals at the right time and scoring goals has an impact on the opposition.

“It was our day, basically. And I’d like it to be our day on Sunday – that would be good.”

New signings on both managers’ wish-lists

Celtic have endured Champions League misery this season, with a defeat to Lazio on Tuesday their latest blow to be absorbed.

And the Hoops’ last domestic result was a frustrating draw with Motherwell.

“I don’t think Brendan has probably got what he wants yet,” said Levein. “I read him saying he’d probably be looking to bring in players in January.

“I don’t think there are any managers who’ve got to the point where they have everything they want in their squad.

“Because I haven’t.

“I don’t think Brendan has.

“You always want better, you want more.

“But off the back of the Motherwell result they will be really determined. That’s why we have to be the same.

“If we can get our mindset right for this particular match it’s a case of we don’t want to get beat first and foremost. Then – can we go and win the game?”

Injury update

Nicky Clark is making training ground progress but won’t be risked on Sunday, while Cammy MacPherson is out for several weeks with a torn thigh muscle.

Andy Considine hasn’t been ruled out of contention, though.

Andy Considine.
Andy Considine. Shutterstock.

“Because of the weather we were out on the astro today but he was doing running,” said Levein.

“Hopefully another 24 hours will improve that situation.

“I’m not interested that there’s another game in midweek (against St Mirren). The focus is on Celtic – simple as that.

“There’s a reason why managers say ‘one game at a time’.”


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