Gary Mackay: Wealth of attacking options lifting Hearts
Saturday's win showed the value of Hearts' improved attacking options.
The big difference this season is we have a good array of players who can hurt the opposition. Because of that, we have been able to start with a strong attacking team and then, when things are not going to plan, bring on the likes of Bjorn Johnsen, Sam Nicholson and Robbie Muirhead to change it.
It’s a great position to be in, knowing you can bring those boys off the bench when you’re in trouble because we haven’t always had that. Only last season we were reliant on forward players who weren’t delivering consistently.
Nicholson and Johnsen will now have staked a strong claim for a starting place for next week after their impact on Saturday. We all know what Nicholson can do, but I think Johnsen has shown in his brief spells on the pitch that he can be a useful addition. He won’t want to remain on the bench for much longer.
The options we have in the front area make it a no-brainer to play on the front foot. Perhaps away from home, especially at somewhere like St Johnstone where we go on Saturday, it’s lot harder to be swashbuckling in our approach. But in home games, with the crowds we’re attracting, there’s absolutely no doubt that we should always be looking to play on the front foot, and I think that’s been the case in our league matches at Tynecastle this season.
The gloom has lifted. Supporters aren’t gurning any more, and that’s because we’re having a go, scoring goals and winning games.
We’re also in second place, which helps the mood. We’ve not played Rangers yet, so it’s hard to say where we are in relation to them. We are a year ahead of them in terms of adapting to the Premier League and, recruitment-wise, we also seem to have brought in better quality players since last season, so we look like we’re going to be stronger than last year. Certainly at the moment, we look sharper than both Rangers and Aberdeen. You only have to look at the fact we’ve beaten teams in Hamilton and Inverness, who those two weren’t able to beat. We just need to focus on ourselves for now, though – if we keep winning, it won’t matter what our rivals are doing.