Gary Mackay: This is simply not acceptable – and I was so baffled by Hearts’ set-up against Kilmarnock

I don’t mind admitting I was completely baffled by what went on at Tynecastle at the weekend against Kilmarnock.

Hearts duo Michael Smith and Joel Pereira can't hide their frustration after the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock. Pic: SNS
Hearts duo Michael Smith and Joel Pereira can't hide their frustration after the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock. Pic: SNS

I can relate to injuries but every squad has them. Right now, Hearts have a lot of them. Maybe Steven MacLean isn’t able to play a full game, maybe Aidan Keena isn’t ready, but they are two orthodox strikers. Against a team which is always big and physical, we play Ryotaro Meshino and Sean Clare as a kind of alternating front two with Aaron Hickey starting wide on the right. I was just baffled.

Like a lot of supporters, I was hoping we would go out on the front foot. Our next home game is against Rangers but we have not beaten Ross County, Hamilton, Motherwell or Kilmarnock at home in the Scottish Premiership. Two points from 12 at home. That is relegation form. Totally unacceptable. There has to be a reason for that.

The manager is now blaming the players. That is a big call to take on because you are then looking for your injured players to come back and hit the ground running. If he has called out individual players in the changing room, then that’s fine and those guys have to deal with that. If he is calling out the group and saying they all have to look at themselves, then that’s a big thing to take on.

Most of the people I worked with in football worked as a collective. Most successful groups know that is the way to go about it: Collective responsibility, win together and lose together. We are now at four home games without a win and the manager has decided to blame the players. I’m not sure that washes with me as an ex-player who had a very short spell in management.

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Hearts did create chances in the Kilmarnock game after going 1-0 down, but the opposition still had some as well. I would like to think we would learn from it and go on the front foot against Rangers when we return from the international break. I’m not convinced that will happen either because it will be so important just to get something from the game.

Beating Rangers would only allow us to move up one place in the league table, and only if Hamilton lose at home to Hibs. So we are in a situation this early in the season where we are scraping to get back up the league table. Every other club above us would need to lose two games while Hearts won two consecutively for us to overtake them. Apart from beating Hibs and Aberdeen in the league and League Cup, when was the last time we actually won two consecutive games against top-flight opponents?

We are in the position of hoping St Mirren and St Johnstone draw next weekend, the day before Hearts play Rangers. As a Hearts supporter, hoping for a draw between St Mirren and St Johnstone in the ninth round of the league campaign because your team has only managed two points from 12 at home, is simply not acceptable.