Gary Mackay: Form has dipped but Hearts not losing

Jamie Walker's stunning strike brought Hearts level. Pic: Ian Rutherford
Jamie Walker's stunning strike brought Hearts level. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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Because of the points difference, the unbeaten run remaining intact and the fact Hibs were the more prominent side for periods of the game, Hearts will definitely be the happier of the two teams after Saturday’s derby.

We were really slack at the start and that was surprising. When you start the way we did, especially against a buoyant side, you’re going to find yourselves in a bit of trouble.

The start we made could have proven costly, but, having fallen behind and played second fiddle for much of the first half, we showed real professionalism to get back into the game through a terrific strike from Jamie Walker.

The players have put so much into the season both on the pitch and in training and performed to such a high level and high intensity at the start of the season, that we were always going to have a wee dip in form at some point.

We’ve certainly not been as exuberant in recent times as we were in the early months of the season. But if we’re having a wee dip in form and we’re still not losing games, it’s credit to the mentality and professionalism of the players and the management.

There’s no doubt that the recruitment drive last summer has been massively important in keeping us at the top of the league. I don’t just mean the quality of players, but also the amount of players, because this campaign is becoming more and more of a squad effort.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up with an even bigger squad at the end of January because it looks to me as if one or two players have put so much into the season that they might be a bit fatigued. The ability to rotate a large squad could be crucial to see us over the line.

Hopefully we can get back on track at Dumbarton this weekend, a game which will be totally different to the Edinburgh derby in terms of atmosphere and intensity. That’s what this Championship adventure’s all about.

We just need to deal with each unique challenge as it comes.

We had a really tough game there the last time, so we’ll know what to expect.