Gary Mackay: Hearts can get something off Celtic

Steven Naismith is brought down in the box by Hamilton's Alex penny.
Steven Naismith is brought down in the box by Hamilton's Alex penny.
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We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the league campaign from Hearts.

To go away from home on the opening day, fall behind and then come back to win 4-1 is brilliant, especially considering we hadn’t won an away league game for more than six months.

The most pleasing aspect for me wasn’t just the scoreline, it was the number of efforts we had on goal. We showed real intent to put Hamilton to the sword.

Fourteen goals in three games is a really emphatic return and suggests that we are not going to have the same scoring problems that hindered us last season. We look really potent and we’re playing on the front foot, so we can go into the Celtic game on Saturday in a really positive mindset. This is a good time to play Celtic in relation to the way we’ve started and the kind of games they’re having to contend with in Europe against higher-quality opposition. The demands of that can definitely have an impact on their league form, especially at this stage of the season when they’re not playing at full pelt and their squad is a bit thinner than usual. I just wish Celtc were playing away to AEK Athens on Wednesday, as opposed to at home, because that might have taken another edge off them, both physically and mentally, ahead of Saturday’s game.

The way this Hearts team is shaping up, if we can defend as well as we did for most of last season, we would have to fancy our chances of taking something from the game because we’ve got plenty goals in us. The personnel has changed quite a lot since we won 4-0 at Tynecastle in December, but it won’t do any harm to those who are still at the club to know that they are capable of beating Celtic because not many teams have managed it in recent seasons. Memories of that game, allied to the start we’ve made to the season, mean we can go into it with plenty belief. The vibe around Hearts has improved significantly over the past fortnight, simply due to results. At half-time at Bayview, when we were losing to Raith Rovers, supporters were justifiably angry, but the subsequent three results have allowed us to have a far more positive outlook. It’s been a swift and uplifting turnaround.