HEARTS boss Craig Levein admitted he was “surprised” and “sad” to see Brendan Rodgers quit Celtic for Leicester City.
The former Scotland manager was expecting to be pitting his wits with the Irishman in a crucial Premiership tussle at Tynecastle tomorrow night.
Rodgers had guided the Hoops to an eight-point lead at the top of the table as the club zeroed in on their eighth successive title – until this morning’s bombshell news.
Levein could now face his former Hibs adversary Neil Lennon in an added intriguing twist to a confrontation that wasn’t lacking in that ingredient in the first place.
The Edinburgh gaffer, speaking to Sky Sports, said: “It’s a surprise to me. I don’t know what Brendan’s thought process is, but I know that he was very good for Celtic.
“He was on the brink of doing something quite spectacular. Obviously, I’m not Brendan Rodgers and I don’t know what his motivation is.
“I don’t think he could have done much more than what he’s done. In some ways, it’ll be sad to see him go, he’s been good for the game up here.
“But things change, time moves on, and obviously he’s decided he wants a new challenge.”
Coincidentally, Levein had a spell as manager of Leicester City in the Championship between 2004 and 2006.
Lennon, of course, was captain when the team played at Filbert Street before his £6million move to Parkhead in December 2000 – bought by another ex-Foxes’ boss Martin O’Neill.
The former Hoops manager and captain is likely to be unveiled at Parkhead tomorrow morning to confirm he will be interim manager until the end of the season.
A goal from Kyle Lafferty, before his deadline move to Rangers, gave Hearts a 1-0 win over the champions in Edinburgh in August.