Hearts owner Ann Budge believes nobody could have done a better job at Hearts this season than Craig Levein – even if the manager thinks differently.
The Tynecastle club topped the Scottish Premiership in early November, but a run of five defeats in eight games has caused them to drop to fifth place.
Levein has had to endure injury issues as well as a health scare of his own.
“The challenges he’s had this season, I’m not sure anyone could have done better,” Budge told BBC Scotland.
“Although he himself feels maybe other people could have seen it differently and coped better.”
Levein, 54, came in for criticism from a section of the Hearts support after his side collapsed to a 5-0 defeat at Livingston on Friday.
However, Budge who appointed the then director of football to replace Ian Cathro in September 2017, says she has no reason to believe Levein will not be in charge for the long term.
“Craig is committed to the club, he is committed to the players, he is committed to the young ones he has brought in and is committed to the most experienced ones,” said Budge shortly after the club’s agm.
“He is a driven character. He wants to prove that all of this is going to gel and we will fight again to get back up the table.”
When Budge took charge in the summer of 2015, she in intimated a desire for a succession plan whereby an internal candidate would be promoted when the first-team manager leave.
However, when Robbie Neilson departed, the club lured Cathro from his coaching position at Newcastle United.
Now, Budge insists that whenever Levein decides to relinquish his post, the likes of Austin McPhee and John Daly would be ready to step up.
“We have said it from the start,” she said. “It’s about bringing players through, it’s about bringing coaches through and giving them an opportunity. We are firmly committed to that.”