Gary Mackay: Hearts can go fourth with a bit of creativity

Craig Levein has made Hearts hard to beat, with excellent performances from players such as John Souttar. Pic: SNS
Craig Levein has made Hearts hard to beat, with excellent performances from players such as John Souttar. Pic: SNS
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It’s been obvious for some time now that Hearts are a solid and resilient team who are having trouble scoring goals regularly.

After beating Celtic 4-0 a couple of weeks ago, I think most people expected us to kick on seamlessly from there and win more games. The likes of St Johnstone, Hibs and Aberdeen have obviously had something to say about that, but there is no shame in drawing with those three sides.

We’re defending superbly and that has been in no small part down to the form of goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, who has been a steadying influence. It would be great to get him tied down on a new contract and I’d like to think he’d be keen to extend his stay here.

For all that we can now be considered a resilient team once more, our lack of creativity and goal threat must be addressed soon because we can’t rely on our defence every week. There will come a point when we fall behind, and we need to be able to have some way of getting back into games.

I’m hoping our recruitment in January revolves predominantly around creative and attacking players to help give us an edge in attack for the second half of the season. Regardless of whether anyone leaves the club, I think it’s pretty clear we need to freshen up our attack with players who will either make things happen or put the ball in the back of the net because we’ve not been able to do that on a regular basis outwith the Celtic game.

I’ve always thought of Hearts as a team who get at opponents and attack them down the flanks, and it was notable that was how our only chance against Hibs came about. I’d like to see us try and add some width to our squad this month.

Overall I think we can be reasonably happy with where we are in relation to how the season started. I’d say we’re C-plus approaching a B-minus at this stage. In terms of being good on the eye, we’ve still got a bit to go but there has been progress in terms of becoming a more solid team. We’ve put ourselves in a position where we know that fourth place is achievable if we come back strongly and more adventurous after the break.