Gary Mackay: Keep calm and carry on with Hearts' charge for Europe
Let’s be realistic. If we thought Hearts would be in a position to push for Europe this season, we would have been delighted.
We have given ourselves a real platform to make a go of it now. Anything else is a bonus. You want to be in a position to take advantage if Rangers or Celtic falter or drop points along the way. You need to capitalise.
The pre-season question for Hearts was whether they could get in among the European places this year after coming up from the Championship. We have given ourselves a decent chance to do that.
Now we go to Ibrox and try to cause an upset in what should be a real occasion with first against second in the league. Some of the Hearts players know the stadium and have played there in big games, but for others it will be new.
Cameron Devlin and Beni Baningime spring to mind when I say that. They are two heartbeats in the middle of the pitch and this will be new to them. They both seem to play with a smile on their face and a freedom, which is great to see.
Hopefully they get a lift and become inspired playing in front of so many supporters, which can then help them play without fear. Thankfully it looks like there will be fans in maroon and white there backing them.
It’s hard enough going to these places with fans behind you. If you don’t have them, it makes it even harder. I’m pleased to see that issue is on the way to being resolved.
Either way, Hearts have to go to Glasgow and stand up to Rangers. That’s particularly true in the early part of the game. If we do that and express ourselves from middle to front, who knows what can happen?
Rangers aren’t firing on all cylinders right now and we have a quality about us that we haven’t had for a long time. A lot of that is down to recruitment and there has probably been quite a bit of money spent in that department.
I’m sure the board feel happier that we are getting results having spent those sums of money. That hasn’t happened in the past. Form has been patchy and we have been up and down. Now there is a group of players through the spine of the first team who have a desire to push as far as they can.
There is a renewed vigour and enthusiasm all around the football club just now and it’s great. There are a multitude of reasons for it. Robbie Neilson and his coaching staff have dealt with criticism from last year. They realised they needed to make changes and they have made changes.
The recruitment looks like it’s better which allows you to feel much better about the whole picture. Previously, we seemed to be signing numbers and hoping for the odd diamond in among them.
Now we are signing less numbers and making sure we get a few diamonds. So if you have one or two who don’t cut the mustard, people are far more accepting.