Gary Mackay: Hearts unbeaten run a big achievement

Jason Holt watches his shot fly into the Rangers net. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Jason Holt watches his shot fly into the Rangers net. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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I don’t think any Hearts supporter could ever have imagined that, at this stage of the season, ourselves and Chelsea would be spoken about in the same breath as the only two unbeaten teams in Britain.

That really is a huge achievement, especially considering what state we were in last season.

It speaks volumes about the character of the team that we were able to stand up to a physical team with some big names. I had no doubt that Rangers would try and ruffle some feathers. As soon as you see the name Jon Daly in their starting line-up, you know they’re going to play a certain way, and that’s what they did. In the early period of the game, it looked like it could pay off for them. But as we’ve seen so often, football isn’t just won by skill and ability – it also comes down to discipline and game management, and Hearts were better in those departments than Rangers over the 90 minutes.

For all that the game was pretty physical, Hearts’ first goal was a thing of beauty. I don’t think we’ll see a better first-time effort than Jason Holt’s all season. That was genuine technique.

There’s a long way still to go in the title race, but at the same time, the fact we’re nine points clear going into December is pretty significant. There’s no reason that, with the right attitude, we can’t maintain this consistency for a good while longer. There’s a commitment and spirit about the team and we’re seeing now that there’s genuine depth to the squad. Saturday’s win was achieved without three of our most influential players in Osman Sow, Danny Wilson and Prince Buaben. That shows that rather than simply relying on a strongest XI, we have plenty different permutations.

I think every Hearts fan would rather have taken a win over Rangers than one over Celtic this weekend. I look on the Scottish Cup tie as a bonus game, where we have nothing to lose. I wouldn’t be at all bothered if Robbie Neilson decided to shuffle his pack in order to ensure the squad is in the best shape possible for a potentially-tricky league game against Queen of the South.