Gary Mackay: Many reasons to keep iconic Skacel at club

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RUDI SKACEL is the most iconic figure the Hearts supporters have had since John Robertson. That is a huge and deserved compliment to him and people at Tynecastle must think about that during his contract talks.

We hear Skacel is due for discussions with Hearts this week and his future should become clearer before the end of the month. Saturday’s hat-trick was absolutely out of this world and certainly underlined his value to Hearts.

When there’s a willingness to stay on the player’s part – and in Rudi’s case there undoubtedly is – it’s then up to the club to respond. Skacel left before and realised that sometimes you can move for money or whatever, but there are other times when you’re happy, performing well and you’re adored by supporters. Those things can fill a lot of voids regardless of the monetary aspect.

Hearts are giving people added responsibility at an administrative level, but football clubs are about the management, supporters and players. The manager is in a situation where he doesn’t know who might leave, Skacel has the same uncertainty. The football department is the one which has to be sorted out as soon as possible so that these guys can get on and ply their trade.

I’m not sure if Rudi will take a pay cut but, on the other side, you have to consider how many bums are put on seats by Rudi Skacel. How many bums were on seats because of John Robertson, or Paul Hartley? Supporters want iconic figures and at Hearts we haven’t had a lot recently. It’s only been a sprinkling. Skacel is the most popular since Robbo.

If you look at it as a business model, Hearts will start thinking about next year’s season tickets soon. Regarding being in third position and looking forward to European football, will these prospects be enhanced by keeping Rudi Skacel at Heart of Midlothian? I think the season ticket numbers will be boosted and the chance of finishing third will be strengthened by retaining good players.

All the players should be praised for their resilience on Saturday, not only Skacel, despite the massive part he played. They all handled the things thrown in front of them so well because life was not made easy for them during the St Mirren game. That’s when people like Skacel, Andy Webster, Ian Black, John Sutton and Stephen Elliott become hugely important. You do need that experience and balance.

It’s wonderful the way we are going on the field. My admiration for the manager, Paulo Sergio, is full-proof. I think it’s unbelievable what the management team have done under recent circumstances, emphasised by Saturday’s performance with ten men.

We didn’t have Andy Driver, David Templeton, Ryan McGowan or Mehdi Taouil. The Hearts bench against St Mirren compared with the Hearts bench against Hibs shows me that the squad is gradually being depleted. People have to realise that, if you’re going to continue pruning it, the consistent form we’ve had recently will become less likely in the future.

Me and other supporters have to accept that. The people employed by the club should remember it too. The team at the weekend, apart from Scott Robinson, was very experienced. I’m not so sure a less-experienced side would have dealt with the adversity during the game – conceding a penalty, going down to ten men and then falling 2-1 behind. I’m not just talking about Hearts. I don’t know if a team with less experience would have coped in that position.

If people are genuinely concerned with Hearts’ best interests, the future of the management and the big players should be of paramount importance. Ultimately I believe Paulo Sergio should have overall autonomy regarding who he wants to keep at the club.