Gary Mackay: Walker and Nicholson are potent Hearts weapons
Saturday's victory over Hamilton was much-needed for Hearts.
Confidence was low in light of recent results, so to win so emphatically after such a wretched run of results will lift the supporters and hopefully spark a sustained upturn in the team’s fortunes.
I think the playing surface helped us in what was a very convincing victory against a poor Accies team. We also benefited from starting with both Sam Nicholson and Jamie Walker because they can really stretch teams. I feel we’re missing a pretty obvious trick whenever we choose not to start either of those two because they are such dangerous players who can get the opposition on the back foot.
After such an impressive result, the big test now is to follow it up with a strong performance against Aberdeen because the last time we won 4-0, against Kilmarnock in December, we were easily beaten by the Dons at Tynecastle in our following match.
We can’t allow that to happen this time or it will be a case of back to the drawing board. Saturday’s game at Pittodrie will obviously be much tougher than the Hamilton game, but I feel it’s important that, fitness permitting, we stick with the same team from Saturday and allow them the chance to try and generate some momentum and cohesion.
There’s an obsession with tinkering in football these days, but I’m a great believer in sticking with a winning team. We’ve had a clean sheet at one end and scored four at the other, so the team, in my view, should pick itself. If we do change it and don’t get a result, then people will just ask why we felt the need to tweak a team that has just produced a really positive performance and won 4-0.
We’re now within six points of Rangers, which is not insurmountable. However, with a particularly tough run of fixtures against Aberdeen, Celtic and St Johnstone ahead of us, we also have to remain wary of Saints overtaking us because they are doing incredibly well on limited resources and will still fancy their chances of pipping us to fourth place.
The key thing is that we’ve stopped the rot. Now we need to use Saturday’s victory as a launchpad for a strong finish to the season and ensure we banish what has been a dire period for the club.