Caley Thistle manager John Robertson knows his Hearts counterpart Craig Levein will see Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi final as a prime opportunity to take a giant stride towards ending his trophy drought.
Robertson, who is the Jambos’ all-time leading goalscorer, takes on his former team-mate in this weekend’s last-four tie at Hampden Park.
Former Scotland manager Levein won a Scottish Cup runners-up medal as a player with Hearts in 1986, and did likewise in the League Cup when he was manager of Dundee United in 2008, however a maiden silverware still eludes the 54-year-old.
With the Tynecastle club firm favourites to progress past Championship Inverness, Robertson reckons Levein will feel he has never had a better chance.
Robertson said: “I know how much it would mean to Craig to lead Hearts into a cup final and to win the Cup with Hearts. I have to try and stop him because I want to win it with Inverness.
“When he got Hearts into third place twice in his last spell as manager he never had the best runs in the cup. That is the best opportunity to win something by lifting the cup. If it is the one thing missing from his CV, playing football – where he was robbed by injury – and a manager, he hasn’t won a trophy.
“That doesn’t mean he is a bad manager because he isn’t. He has been the Scotland boss and managed clubs in Scotland and England, but he will feel unfulfilled and something is missing if he doesn’t win something. He will see this as a wonderful opportunity to win something.
“He will see us as a very achievable victory to get to the final and then he’ll take his chances against Celtic or Aberdeen.
“Even if Hearts win the game, there’ll still be a few detractors – that’s just the way it is.
“For years, he’s been stigmatised as the 4-6-0 guy. He tried it in one game – and it nearly worked – but that’s stuck with him.
“There are always going to be people who don’t fancy Craig’s style, but there will be plenty who do. He’s one of the strongest characters I know.”
Levein has come under fire from sections of the Hearts support, with last weekend’s 2-1 Edinburgh derby defeat to Hibernian leaving them sixth in the Premiership.
Robertson does not feel Levein’s job is under threat, adding: “Craig understands better than most people, myself included. It’s not pressure. Craig will tell you he’s not under pressure.
“He has to deal with the expectation levels of the Hearts fans. The fans have got to realise they were in administration two short years ago.
“There’s nothing in Craig’s mannerisms and nothing I see from him that suggests to me he is not going to be there next year.”