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Craig Levein aiming to create siege mentality at Hearts

The 52-year-old returns to the dugout for the first time in almost five years this weekend.

Hearts boss Craig Levein says he will create a siege mentality at the club as he tries to turn around their fortunes on the pitch.

The 52-year-old returned to the Tynecastle hot seat for a second stint last week, bringing his and owner Ann Budge's month-long search for a permanent successor to Ian Cathro to a close.

Noted for being fiercely protective of his players during his first spell in Gorgie and while in charge of Dundee United, Levein is looking to engender a similar mindset this time around as he attempts to steady the ship.

He said: "That (a siege mentality) helps. There are a lot of different things that go into being successful and I do protect my players - but only when they are doing well.

"For me, it's simple: You have to work your tail off and do everything you can to win the match and if you don't win it and we have done everything honestly then I am a fully supportive."

He added: "Those are the ground rules, you have to work hard. All the things that have happened since the start of preseason training have been quite stressful for the players so we are just trying to keep it simple and make sure we play with an energy, a passion, a drive that the supporters want.

"I know the club extremely well. I first joined in 1983, 14 years as a player, four as a manager, three as a director of football and now back to this so I know the club and SPFL inside out.

"We've got a situation that is a little bit unusual but there are ways of coping with that."

I've felt the butterflies again. For the first time in four or five years I've had to look at a game plan for Saturday and select the players. I can imagine there will be a touch of nerves on Saturday."
Craig Levein

Saturday's clash with Aberdeen at Murrayfield will end a near five-year exodus from the dugout for Levein after his sacking from the Scotland head coach role in November 2012.

It is a return that has left the coach with nervous excitement.

"It was quite strange last week when I took over, as I didn't do a lot on the training ground because of the transfer window closing," he said.

"But this week I've felt the butterflies again. In my previous role I was just watching and would give advice if asked but this is different.

"For the first time in four or five years I've had to look at a game plan for Saturday and select the players, which I'm looking forward to, but I can imagine there will be a touch of nerves on Saturday."

The transfer window closed with winger Jamie Walker still at the club after a mooted move to Rangers failed to come to fruition.

Levein can understand the player's disappointment at how things played out but believes he will still be a key player for Hearts this campaign.

He said: "I have just been watching training and he has been excellent. I don't want to go in to too much detail but if I was Jamie I'd be a little bit disappointed at a lot of the promises that were made to him and weren't kept, and not from our club.

"I haven't had a conversation, he's trained fantastically well. For me, Jamie Walker is just another player. If he does the work on the training ground he'll play."

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