Don Cowie: Beating Celtic means little if Hearts lose to Saints
Don Cowie believes Hearts can remain unbeaten until the new year following six games without defeat in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
The veteran midfielder, however, warned that Sunday’s rampant 4-0 win against Celtic will mean little if Hearts lose to St Johnstone in Perth this weekend.
The Edinburgh club have won their past three matches without conceding. They face St Johnstone, Hibs and Aberdeen before the Premiership’s three-week winter break in January.
Cowie, 34, urged his colleagues to first focus on the trip to McDiarmid Park – where Hearts haven’t experienced a league victory for seven years – if they want to maintain this unbeaten run.
“I don’t see why we can’t stay unbeaten until the break but we have got three tough games,” he said.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on St Johnstone. I know we beat them at Murrayfield [in October] but we have struggled against them in Perth the last few years. So we need to put that right.
“That’s something we’ve managed to do at Kilmarnock and Motherwell in the past year where we had had winless runs, so hopefully we can do it again.”
Three points again this Saturday would heighten Hearts’ ambitions of breaking into the top four. They are currently fifth, three points behind Edinburgh rivals Hibs in fourth.
“All of a sudden people will be expecting us to win. We’ve struggled against St Johnstone and that’s been well documented,” continued Cowie.
“If we don’t go and get a result this weekend then what happened against Celtic will count for nothing. We need to really build on it.
“That’s probably the one thing we haven’t managed to do this season – have any real consistency. If we make it four wins in a row, we will then be looking at that top four and trying to break into it.”
Hearts travel to Perth in confidence having taken nine points inside a week from games against Motherwell, Dundee and Celtic.
“That just shows you because Hibs played so well against Celtic and very well against Rangers but only got a point from their week,” Cowie pointed out. “We were okay against Motherwell and Dundee but played well against Celtic and we got nine points. So it shows you how funny the game is.
“You don’t pick up nine points in a week very often so we need to take confidence from it.”
Cowie insisted the Hearts players welcome the added expectation brought by their unbeaten run. “That’s the pressure you need to deal with as a footballer, we have a lot of young players and what’s more important is how you react after beating Celtic.
“It’s great we won and the plaudits that came from it, especially for the young boys. Now we’ll go to St Johnstone with 5,000 to 6,000 at the game and that’s where you really get tested. We need to stand up to it and make sure we are ready for it.”