Gary Mackay: Hearts need proven goalscorer '“ or creator
Since the transfer window opened, we've already seen four players leave Hearts and two come in.
I know there are still two weeks remaining, but I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that we need to get a few more bodies in before the transfer window closes in order to give us a chance of getting the most we possibly can from a campaign in which we still have plenty to play for.
In terms of arrivals, Christophe Berra would undoubtedly enhance the squad if Hearts could prise him from Ipswich Town. I have no idea how that would work financially, as Christophe would surely have to take a big cut in salary to come back to Tynecastle, but if he’s willing to do so, then he’d certainly improve our defence.
Of those who have already arrived, I don’t profess to know much about Lennard Sowah, but he’s been at some decent clubs. Left-back has been a problem position for us pretty much since Adam Eckersley left, so hopefully Sowah can be the man to finally make the role his own. I know some people have questioned the signing of Aaron Hughes because of his age, but when you’re in a transitional period like Hearts are, it makes sense to bring in a player of his experience and calibre to help steady the ship.
Thus far, the January window has been predominantly about outgoings. In terms of having a degree of continuity, the rapid rate at which players seem to have departed the club over the past year or two is a slight concern to me.
I was particularly surprised to see Igor Rossi depart. I understand that the move makes sense for Rossi and his family, but my thoughts are more predominantly with Heart of Midlothian, and in that regard, we have lost a pretty consistent defender who has played every week when fit over the past 18 months. That said, if Berra were to sign, he would fill the void in terms of being a left centre-back.
I think both Alim Ozturk and Juanma have something to offer but it wasn’t a great surprise that they cut ties with the club after falling out of favour latterly.
Amid the ongoing feeling of transition at the club since the change of head coach, I just hope the desire to meet the challenge that remains for this season isn’t being overtaken by a focus on next term because we can still finish in the top three and enjoy a Scottish Cup run in the coming months. Not much was broken when Robbie Neilson left less than two months ago, but, as things stand, we look desperately in need of new faces to freshen things up for the remainder of the campaign.
We certainly need to do something in the forward area. We either need a proven goalscorer or somebody who is a creator of chances, so that the strikers have more opportunities to score goals.
Jamie Walker and Sam Nicholson are our two main creative forces, and one of them is currently out injured. I think from a fans’ perspective, we need someone – and it might be someone we’ve never heard of before – who can come in and excite us.
In the forward area, Bjorn Johnsen has kicked on a bit, and Robbie Muirhead has done well in flashes, but we really need someone who can assist Jamie, and Sam when he’s fit, in terms of giving a bit of creativity to our team. You can build from the back and create a solid team, but to win football matches regularly and get a hugely loyal support off their feet, we need people who are going to excite us.
A Scottish Cup run would certainly lift the support, and I’d like to think we have enough about us to get off to a positive start on that front by seeing off Raith Rovers on Sunday. There will be a bit of pressure on Hearts because our recent league form hasn’t been great, and also because the supporters are desperate for a cup run. But Raith are struggling badly at the moment so I’d be very disappointed if we can’t take care of them, even allowing for the fact we are not in great shape ourselves. The slight concern is that we are a bit rusty after the winter break, but I’d like to think that, with a 3000-strong travelling support, we can start on the front foot and go on to dominate a Raith team low on confidence.