Gary Mackay: Threadbare Hearts squad under no pressure

Jamie Walker comes on for Hearts team-mate Kevin McHattie. Pic: SNS
Jamie Walker comes on for Hearts team-mate Kevin McHattie. Pic: SNS
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Saturday’s display against Motherwell was much improved in relation to our last few home games.

The fact we are all but relegated could well have a positive effect on the team because they can now play without the pressure of having to win every match. However, that is countered slightly by the fact we are playing with a more threadbare squad every week, with more injuries picked up at the weekend.

We just need to hang in there and try and pick up the odd result here and there and hopefully one result might spark a wee run. We’re bang up against it every single week, though. You only needed to look at the bookmakers’ prices to see the first six goalscorers listed were all Motherwell players. It came as little surprise to most people that the one who did score first was John Sutton, who, due to whatever circumstances, left Hearts in the summer.

I know some supporters weren’t massive fans of Sutton when he was at Hearts, but that experience, knowledge and wherewithal to play the striker position is something that’s very hard to teach. You can coach players and try and turn them into strikers all you like, but there is no substitute for a natural proven striker, and, at Scottish Premiership level, that is exactly what Sutton is. Unfortunately, we have no players at Hearts like him and he proved the difference between the teams on Saturday.

The fact we allowed ourselves to end up in this dire situation without a recognised striker on the books is further evidence of the lack of foresight from those who mismanaged the club so badly.

They might not have been universally appreciated while they were at Hearts, but if we had somehow been able to retain Sutton, Danny Grainger and Darren Barr, what a difference it would have made to our chances of being more competitive this season.

The big concern at the moment is the domino effect throughout the club, with young lads of all ages being promoted way above their age group and playing in a level that they’re simply not ready for. It’s not so much the physical effect, but more the mental demands on these kids that I’m worried about. It’s a near-impossible situation to resolve because the club have to accept their punishment for past misdemeanours.