Gary Mackay: Stopping the rot was all that mattered

Robbie Neilson has extended his Hearts contract until 2018. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Robbie Neilson has extended his Hearts contract until 2018. Pic: Ian Georgeson

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It’s been a great weekend for Hearts. We weren’t convincing in our own performance but we were the only team in the top six of the Premiership to record a victory. I’ll take that scenario any day.

After a little sticky patch brought some murmurs of discontent in recent weeks, I think it’s important that we look around us and recognise that nobody is finding it easy to win consistently and convincingly in this league, Celtic and Aberdeen included. There’s an argument that the form team at the moment are Dundee United, who are bottom. Sometimes you just need to take stock of a situation.

Tomorrow’s game against Inverness gives us the chance to go 14 points clear in third place and close to within six points of Aberdeen, and, for me, that puts our season so far into context. Most teams in Scotland would happily swap places with us right now, which is something we’ve not been able to say for a very long time.

Granted, Saturday’s display wasn’t particularly convincing but, in light of recent results, it was all about stopping the rot.

If we can end this week with nine points from our run of three consecutive home games against Killie, Inverness and Partick then I’ll be absolutely delighted, regardless of what the performances are like. There’s every chance tomorrow’s game against Inverness will be another tightly-contested affair in which we won’t get it all our own way.

Stylish, swashbuckling football, like that we produced against Motherwell in our previous home game in the league, is all well and good but, if we are comfortable in third or even in second place come the end of the season, you won’t catch me complaining about a few underwhelming performances. All I want is for us to keep winning matches and ensure we are in a promising position in the league when the season enters the business end.

The news on Friday that head coach Robbie Neilson and his assistant Stevie Crawford had extended their contracts was a further sign that the club is heading in the right direction. We’ve had a lot of managerial upheaval in recent times, but hopefully now we are embarking on a period of continuity.