Gary Mackay: Hearts players must regroup and show character

After just two games in charge, it's too early to judge Hearts head coach Ian Cathro
After just two games in charge, it's too early to judge Hearts head coach Ian Cathro
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This festive period will be a time for strong characters at Hearts after the stick the team received on Saturday.

No matter whether you’re playing in front of 16,000 people at Tynecastle or 5000 at Dens Park, when you’re in a rut and copping flak, you need to be brave and stand up to the challenge.

I’ve been there before, out on the pitch when it’s not going well and you’re getting a bit of criticism, and it can be the hardest thing you have to deal with as a player.

Conor Sammon has had more criticism than most since joining Hearts, and I feel for him, but only strength of character will pull him through it. That type of strong mentality is probably epitomised by the Rangers striker, Joe Garner. He was written off as a dud and described as a waste of money by many people but he’s been able to turn it round. That comes from having help from your team-mates and your manager, as well as showing your own inner strength.

We need to see a real team ethic and collective strength of character from the Hearts players now, with everybody helping each other out and showing for passes. That must start on Friday when we head to Dens Park for a really tricky game against Dundee that is now going to have a lot of focus on it after our last couple of results and performances.

Ian Cathro will be as disappointed as anyone with the start he’s made but, although there will be a bit of pressure to get a couple of results over the next two weeks, it’s still far too early to be making any judgment on our new head coach. He needs proper time to get his feet under the table and implement his ideas.

Although Saturday’s game was really poor from a Hearts perspective, the main positive is that it didn’t damage our league position too much because Aberdeen lost and St Johnstone drew.

Rangers have obviously opened up a wee gap and they beat us relatively convincingly at Ibrox, but I’m not convinced that they’re ready to pull away from us just yet. I would hope over the next three games against Dundee, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen, that we will see a reaction.