Gary Mackay: Hearts manager deserves immense credit for win

I don't think anybody could have envisaged what happened at Tynecastle yesterday. It truly was the perfect performance by Hearts from the first minute to the last.

Monday, 18th December 2017, 5:30 am
Michael Smith was impressive in an unfamiliar centre back role

We had pace, power, aggression and desire – all these things were there in abundance, and Celtic simply couldn’t handle us. It was a joy to witness.

Yesterday wasn’t a day for singling anybody out because it was a complete team performance with everybody in a maroon jersey excelling, but the one thing that really jumped out for me was Michael Smith’s display. From a managerial perspective, that was a really astute decision to play him in there. Defensive solidity has been a key element for us, and he helped maintain that and epitomised all that was good about us yesterday.

Craig Levein has always said it would take until we got a run of games at Tynecastle before the team would start to take off, so fair play to him because it looks like that’s what’s happening.

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I’ve never hidden the fact I’ve had concerns about the way the team has been managed over the past year or so, and I wasn’t the only one among Hearts’ support who felt sceptical and was starting to question the whole project. I still believe the criticism of the team over the past year has been valid and justified because I don’t think we’ve done as well as we should have been doing, but yesterday’s emphatic victory, coming on the back of some improved recent form, is a sign that things are now heading in the right direction.

Hammering Celtic in such a manner is a really significant result, and hopefully it can kick us on to a really fruitful festive period.

Any team should take massive confidence from a triumph like that, but our next opponents, St Johnstone, are also going into our meeting in Perth on the back of an excellent win over one of the Glasgow sides. We then have matches against two teams above us in the league – Hibs and Aberdeen.

But after yesterday’s demolition of the top team in the country, the Hearts supporters will now expect us to beat every side who comes in our way.

Yesterday’s victory will spoken about for years – hopefully there are more of those performances to come as we look to reassert ourselves at Scottish football’s sharp end.