Gary Mackay: February will be a crucial month for Hearts

Perry Kitchen challenges Celtic's Nir Bitton. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Perry Kitchen challenges Celtic's Nir Bitton. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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After a disappointing couple of months, February has now become a critical four weeks for Hearts’ season.

We need the team to gel and the support to come together in a positive manner, otherwise things could start to unravel. What happens over the next few weeks, particularly between Wednesday’s game against Rangers and the Scottish Cup tie against Hibs, will decide the mood of the supporters for the remainder of the season.

We’ve taken a big chance with the amount of changes we’ve made to the squad, and it looks like there are going to be other changes made over the next day or so. We seem to have quite a few players coming in on short-term deals until the end of the season. I’d be disappointed if that’s a sign that we’ve already turned our attention to next term and are simply trying to see out this campaign with stop-gaps. Time will tell, but at the moment it feels like we’re in a state of flux. The January window is a notoriously difficult period to operate in, but we seem to have done more business this month than in most summer transfer windows I can recall. It’s a very unusual situation, and the level of transition is undoubtedly having an effect on our season.

As a club, we’ve not had a prolonged period of difficulty like this since we came out of administration. Right now, it’s hard to see where we’re going to turn things round with regard to the league situation because we’ve slipped quite far adrift of Aberdeen and Rangers.

As well as having to stop the rot in the league, we’ve also got the high-stakes cup tie against Hibs looming. It’s going to be a really testing period for Hearts, but a win over Rangers would alter the landscape significantly. If we’re to do that, we’ll need a high-tempo, passionate approach similar to the one we showed the last time Rangers came to Tynecastle.

Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be without John Souttar after his injury yesterday. It’s a hammer blow both for the player and Hearts. If he’s going to be sidelined for a period of time, it will mean yet more change to a defence which has had no real continuity this season, both through injuries and changes in personnel.

It feels like one thing after another for Hearts at the moment. We need to stay strong to turn the tide.