Gary Mackay: Celtic, Dons games will be true gauge

Osman Sow look like he's back to his old self. Pic: Ian Rutherford

Osman Sow look like he's back to his old self. Pic: Ian Rutherford

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Robbie Neilson is, understandably, trying to temper expectations around Hearts at the moment, but this will prove an impossible task as long as the team keeps winning.

If you put yourselves top of the league with five straight wins, there will inevitably be talk about what the team can achieve. The fact they have looked solid, powerful and creative, and have several match-winners in their ranks, means it’s inevitable that people are going to sit up and take note of what Hearts are doing.

Being compared to the George Burley team – rightly or wrongly – is testament to the excellent work going on at the club. Personally, I’m not so sure we have a chance of winning the league. Celtic and Aberdeen are still the two established top clubs in the country and are both still right on our coat-tails. Those two still have to be viewed as the favourites. It was only a few weeks ago that finishing in the top six would have been viewed as a good achievement. The standards they’ve set so far means fans are probably entitled to aim a bit higher now.

But, for me, we’ll only have a proper idea of what they’re capable of once the first quarter is finished and they have played the likes of Aberdeen and Celtic. It would be lovely if we were able to keep ourselves in contention to capitalise if either of those two slip up.

Our success has been underpinned by the recruitment at the club since the new regime took control last summer. The majority of the signings in that time have made an excellent impression but none have captured the imagination more than Juanma. His power and composure for his goal against Partick was excellent.

It was also good to see Osman Sow look like he’s back to his old self. Strikers are often judged by their ability to score at crucial, game-changing times and that’s him now broken the deadlock twice in successive games. Juanma and Sow are both big players for us in every sense of the word.

The fact we got another clean sheet is a sign that the defensive players and the goalkeeper are beginning to develop an understanding. Confidence is surging through the team, so there’s no reason we can’t maintain the momentum with victories at Forfar and Hamilton this week.