Gary Mackay: Hearts kicked when they’re down despite a fine effort

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When you’re going through a tough time as a club, everything seems to go against you and that was the case again on Saturday.

The players gave themselves an opportunity to get a huge lift by getting a point at Celtic Park but unfortunately we weren’t able to convert the penalty. You can’t fault the effort and commitment of the team but things are just conspiring against Hearts on and off the field just now.

I can’t give them enough credit for the way they applied themselves in such difficult circumstances, though, because a lot of people were expecting Celtic to run out comfortable winners.

Players, as they were in my day, are generally quite selfish characters in the sense that they all want to be in the starting XI and they all want to secure the best possible contract for themselves and move on to bigger and better things where possible. So it’s a massive credit to the powers of the management team that they have been able to maintain even a semblance of team spirit and harmony throughout this whole sorry episode.

The worrying aspect about Saturday was that there was such a small band of loyal Hearts supporters who went through to Parkhead. I hope that isn’t a sign of people getting disillusioned with the way the club’s being run because the last thing we need is the fan base to start dwindling. Reduced crowds would just make the situation even more difficult because we’ll have less income – it’s a vicious circle we’re becoming embroiled in here.

At the centre of that circle are the players and the management who, despite not getting many positive results of late, have shown incredible professional pride. They’ve now got two massive home games coming up against Dunfermline and Motherwell because we need to try and make sure we’re in the top six going into the new year. They are two games we are undoubtedly capable of winning but obviously with all the off-field stuff going it would be stupid to take anything for granted.

It’s hard not to maintain a general concern for the future of the club. How do the players feel in the changing room when they’re not getting paid yet some of their colleagues are getting offered new contracts?

Somebody involved in the running of the club at the Scottish end needs to be strong and say we’re simply not in a position to be offering players new contracts when the players’ current contracts are not being fulfilled. It’s just not right. That could be damaging within the changing room. Having said that, I can’t imagine many of those who have been offered contracts will be rushing to accept them given what’s been going on lately.

The situation is baffling. All we can hope for now is that the players are able to continue going about their business as professionally as possible amid quite ridiculous circumstances.

City slicker with price plan

I WAS down in England last week with my old friend George Cowie and we took in the Champions League clash between Manchester City and Bayern Munich.

I feel the need to commend City for their ticket pricing as it was £25 for an adult and £10 for a concession.

That is wonderful for a Champions League game considering Hearts fans are having to pay the sum of £34 for the upcoming Edinburgh derby.