Hearts will face Rangers at Hampden in November in the semi-final of the Betfred Cup following last night’s penalty shoot-out win over Aberdeen – and Jambos boss Craig Levein looks like having a cup run mask his side’s league struggles for the second season in a row.
The Tynecastle boss has been under huge pressure in recent weeks as Hearts have slid down the table but the win over Hibs last weekend and the tense win over Aberdeen last night has quickly turned things around for Levein.
Four months ago, the former Scotland manager found himself in a near-identical scenario as injuries to key players saw Hearts’ far fall off a cliff after a strong start to the campaign saw misplaced claims of a title challenge from some in Gorgie – before a run to the Scottish Cup final saw Levein’s side have their big day out as they came up short against Celtic at Hampden.
The Hearts boss might well be bombproof at Tynecastle and have a job as long as he wants one – he currently as a couple to split his time between – but there’s a fair case to be made that he deserves to at least take his team to Hampden to face Rangers in November.
With their league form bordering on laughable until recently, it buys Levein enough time to possibly turn things around and get some key players back into the side ahead of their trip across the M8 to face Steven Gerrard’s Rangers.
A couple more wins and the protests outside the front door of Tynecastle after the defeat by Motherwell will be quickly forgotten and Levein will get the chance to continue on the path he’s taking the Jambos on.
Defeat at Hampden, coupled with a return to the pre-derby form and Levein might have to make his own way back to the capital.
For now, though, it certainly looks as though a solid cup run has bought Levein a little bit more time in the hot seat at Tynecastle – but it could shortly run out if things don’t turn around quickly.