Gary Mackay: Hearts can go anywhere in Scotland without fear
Hearts have nothing to fear going anywhere in Scotland right now.
The form they are showing means they can travel to Ibrox this weekend with genuine confidence, which maybe hasn’t been the case over the previous couple of seasons. They are the league leaders with a five-point cushion and there is no question their resilience and threat will make opponents wary.
Up to now, every question asked of the Hearts players has been answered this season. If you can answer the questions and produce positive answers again during the next few weeks when we play Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibs and Celtic, then it sets you up brilliantly. I know Rangers are doing well at home but is there a better time to go there than a Sunday after they’ve played in Europe? I’m not sure there is.
They have just lost to Livingston so there is a wee bit of negativity there and Hearts will hope to exploit that and seize on any nervousness in their play. We have a week to prepare for this game while Rangers are in Europa League action. Sometimes you have a real opportunity which just arrives on your doorstep like this.
There is no better time to play a team than after they have played a European game. Win, lose or draw, there will be a tiredness about Rangers. From the Hearts perspective, I just hope we have a go at Ibrox. When we’re on the front foot we cause teams problems and we have shown that many times since the campaign started back in July.
If we could get the first goal in Sunday’s game it would raise our confidence levels even further It would give the players something to defend but it would also mean Rangers would have to open up and come at us, which I think might prove beneficial. With the pace and mobility in that Hearts team right now, that could allow us to get more opportunities on the counter-attack.
Callumn Morrison is a big danger for us in that sense and he showed what he can do again at the weekend against St Johnstone. He can be erratic, the same as any winger, but I definitely like what I’m seeing from him.
Steven Naismith is such a massive help to him because having an experienced lad like Naismith giving you the ball constantly when you’re a young player is a massive confidence boost. Naismith kept looking for Morrison all the time on Saturday and was always feeding him the ball. Naturally, the kid will think: I must be doing something right here’.
The Motherwell game last midweek was one of the best there has been at Tynecastle in a long time. You go behind, you come back, then get drawn level but still have that desire, resilience and professionalism to go and win the game. That gave us a boost going into Saturday and we managed to get another victory to stretch our unbeaten run to 13 matches.
We had lots of chances against St Johnstone and I would say that they created a few themselves, especially into the second half. We maybe should have had the game put to bed earlier but all you can ask for right now is victories, no matter how you get them. That has to be commended at the end of a hard week.
We might have dropped two important points if we had lost another goal through St Johnstone’s concerted pressure late on, but we held on. The players deserve the credit for getting their noses in front and then being strong enough to see the game out.
It was a massive three points which keeps the momentum going. As a result, the league table is great viewing for Hearts supporters right now.