LEE JOHNSON claims he was DEFAMED on social media by suggestions he partied before Hibs’ January 2 derby defeat.
The manager endured wild online allegations after being pictured with a fan the night before a dismal 3-0 loss to Hearts.
He’d been out for dinner with family members visiting for Christmas when he agreed to the snap — and was back home before 10pm.
But while he’s able to laugh off the madness of internet mudslinging, the Easter Road gaffer insists it was a slight on his professionalism.
Asked if Edinburgh is a different place during derby weeks, he said: “Well, it is if you go out for dinner on a Friday night, that’s for sure!
“You won’t see me doing that again unless I’m wearing a fake moustache and glasses!
“I found it fascinating, considering I was in bed by 9.45pm. Crazy!
“Actually, I didn’t like it because I felt it was defamation of character.
“I’m a professional and I wouldn’t dream of going out drinking the night before — even though some of the best managers I played for enjoyed a good old matchday minus one to reduce the anxiety.
“But it is what it is. It’s a small city and I like to be present in the city because I like speaking to fans and I like bumping into people.
“I’ve had long, extended chats with fans I’ve met in and around the city and I enjoy that.
“I won’t be a ghost around town or hiding. I like to feel the passion.
“You want to be trusted as a professional manager and I have to earn my stripes in a tough job.
“I’m enjoying the challenges, though — there have been a lot of hurdles.”
He laughed: “I might have the keys to the city if we win!
“I got them in Yeovil but Edinburgh’s a bit of a better town.”
Johnson knows how much this Scottish Cup tie means to supporters and he’s desperate to hear them sing Sunshine On Leith live for the first time during his tenure.
He said: “I haven’t heard it yet and I would love to. It’s a moment you try to project in your mind’s eye.
“You need to leave nothing on the pitch and be exhausted at the end, but you’ve won and you’ve got the fans singing that song. When you do your research, it’s iconic.
“It’s one of the best football songs going. I’d like to play it after every win but that would dilute its effect.
“I understand how you create a force within a club and songs and feelings stirred on the back of things like that are massive.
“Just look at the Cup final win and all the fans singing behind the goal at Hampden, the lads lifting the trophy.
“What an unbelievable experience that would have been.
“We use it as a technique to recruit. On our video to say, ‘Come and join us, we’re a big club’, then that absolutely solidifies the fact.
“That’s what players want. You can put yourself in that and say this is what we’re working for.”
He said: “Bails has been my captain twice at two different clubs. Good player.
“Unfortunately I can’t talk about it because he’s not my player. He’s a Sunderland player.”