Gary Mackay: Hearts showed critics we’re bullet-proof

James Keatings celebrates. Picture: Ian Rutherford
James Keatings celebrates. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Everybody keeps looking for wee chinks in the Hearts armour, but I think that’s mainly because they have chinks in their own armour.

At Alloa on Saturday, we showed once again that, in terms of bottle, character and temperament, we’re pretty bullet-proof.

A few questions were asked after we lost to Falkirk the previous weekend, but we couldn’t have asked for a more emphatic response. We got a great start against Falkirk and didn’t capitalise on it, but this time we really kicked on after getting the goal and got an excellent performance and result.

Hopefully we can really turn the screw now by taking six points from our upcoming double-header against Livingston. I’ve never hidden my admiration for John McGlynn, but Mark Burchill seems to have brought some fresh momentum to Livingston since he came in as manager. They showed they’re a good side by winning 5-1 at Dumbarton recently and they ran us close the last time they played us, so they’ll certainly fancy their chances against us.

On another matter, it was notable that, for all the academy graduates who have been prominent in the Hearts team through necessity over the past couple of years, most of our team on Saturday was made up of players who have been recruited to the football club this season.

Of the XI who started, only Jamie Walker is a genuine academy product, with Callum Paterson having had most of his grounding at boys club level. I’ve never been shy to air my concerns about our academy in the past and some people felt I was wrong to be so critical.

However, my worries were vindicated when Craig Levein explained at the recent AGM that the youth system he inherited last summer wasn’t in particularly great shape.

Craig knows his football and he knows how to run an academy. No disrespect to any of the young lads who have come into the Hearts team and done us a turn in the last couple of seasons, but when a man of Craig’s calibre oversees such radical changes to the squad and appears to be phasing out most of our homegrown players, it makes me think my misgivings about the academy were justified all along.