Gary Mackay: Time for Hearts to end mini derby hoodoo
There's no doubt that Hearts have been in better form than Hibs over the past month or so, but the one thing they have which could help them is a strong derby record over the last few years.
When I played for Hearts in the 1980s and 90s, we had a strong psychological edge over Hibs because we were so used to doing well against them. We went into derbies with a strong feeling that we wouldn’t lose the game. Unfortunately, although their unbeaten run is nowhere near as long as our famous 22 in a row, Hibs now have that edge as a result of their form in the fixture over the last three years, and it’s something we’ll have to overcome because they will come across the city in confident mood.
From a Hearts perspective, there is a bit of pressure on us to win the game and finally end this frustrating derby record, whereas Hibs will probably be content with a point to maintain their feeling of superiority and stay five points clear of us. The sooner we can put this record to bed, the better.
There are several factors in our favour this time which should mean we have a really good chance of winning. For starters, we haven’t lost a goal in our last four games and are unbeaten in seven. Hibs tend to score goals in most games that they play, so the fact we’re giving very little away and playing with an air of assurance can hopefully counter their threat.
In addition, the positive memory of our last match at Tynecastle against Celtic shouldn’t be underplayed – that is a massive factor. I can’t remember many bigger performances than that from Hearts in my lifetime, so surely the players have to take massive confidence from that tomorrow. The fact it’s our first derby in front of the new main stand should also hopefully give us an extra boost.
It really is a hard fixture to call though – there is no clear favourite. The league table shows that there isn’t much between the two sides at all. It would be lovely if we could go within two points of Hibs considering the fact we have had such a turbulent season, particularly in the first few months. Any type of win will do to end this mini- hoodoo and restore a degree of normality.