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Criticism football managers face is growing worse – Hearts boss Craig Levein

Hearts boss Craig Levein fears the “madness” football managers face is growing worse.

The former Scotland manager faces Neil Lennon’s Celtic on Sunday with both having suffered early-season criticism after one defeat each.

Hearts lifted some of the pressure on Levein with an impressive Betfred Cup win at Motherwell, while Celtic were flying until a 4-3 defeat by Cluj in the Champions League was followed by a narrow cup win over Dunfermline.

Levein said: “I think there’s a madness going around just now. If you look around the league everybody’s complaining about everybody. I don’t know where it all ends.

“Thankfully most of the owners aren’t quite as jumpy as sometimes the punters can be. And I’m not sure how much it’s the actual, everyday supporter. I’m not sure it involves them, I think they just get on with their lives.

“You’re always dealing with the extremes in football, particularly in social media. Everybody needs to take a breath and just wait and see.

“Normally you would get halfway through a season before you were judged on how things are going, now you don’t even get to the start of season. It is crazy.”

Levein and Lennon had some memorable disagreements while the latter was at Hibernian but beyond the mind games and touchline tension, the Tynecastle boss admits there is a togetherness which allows managers to discuss the unique pressures they encounter.

“Not so much after matches because generally one of you is feeling great and the other is not,” he said. “But if we meet socially or other things that don’t involve us screaming at each other on the touchline, then there’s a degree of empathy.

“Anybody who has been in the managerial position and done it understands that.

“Ones who haven’t, who just open their mouth and let a lot of c**p come out…. you have to be in that position and worn somebody’s shoes before I think you have the right to criticise.

“A lot of it just now is just noise from people who are experts on making noise.

“Why do we do it? It’s a bug, it’s a drug. It’s what I do. And without it, it’s not the same. But it is getting worse. And I laugh about it because I don’t see how I can change it.”

Levein, speaking before going to watch Celtic take on AIK in the Europa League, expects to face a Hoops side on top form.

“They are a really good side,” he said. “Obviously whenever there’s a managerial change, things change. I’m sure Lenny is still finding his way and I’m sure there are still more players to come in.

“Everybody makes judgements based on each match that passes. I look at it and they have won two league games, scored 12 goals. Listen, if I’m ever going to be in a crisis, please let it be that one.

“Teams lose matches, it happens. But I’m sure he will get things sorted out. He has been successful wherever he has been, so he will get that sorted out as well. There are always problems when you go into a new club and things change.

“They have started the season, particularly in the league, in really good form. And I expect the Celtic of the two league games to turn up in this game on Sunday.”

Levein admitted Steven Naismith and John Souttar would likely miss out again through injury but recent signing Glenn Whelan will be involved after playing 90 minutes for the reserves.

Japanese forward Ryotaro Meshino is expected to arrive next week once his loan move from Manchester City is finalised and Levein does not plan any more signings despite losing Jamie Walker to a fractured leg.