Gary Mackay: New mindset and youth development key to Hearts' future

Arbroath and Inverness have hung in against Hearts recently.

By Barry Anderson
Saturday, 14th November 2020, 7:00 am
Hearts youngsters like Andy Irving are learning from experienced pros like Steven Naismith.
Hearts youngsters like Andy Irving are learning from experienced pros like Steven Naismith.

In the last couple of years when teams have done that, we haven’t shown enough resilience and character to see the game through. We’re doing that now.

There were a lot of changes on Tuesday night at East Fife. You’re talking about having Christophe Berra, a Scotland internationalist, as cover at centre-back. We have a young goalkeeper covering when Craig Gordon is away.

Robbie has been very shrewd with his rebuilding. Steven Naismith and Stephen Kingsley didn’t start at East Fife and three automatic starters were away on international duty as well. It was just about winning the football match.

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Everybody loves to see pure football, quality goals and exciting attacking play. Ultimately, if you aren’t getting the quality it’s about winning the games in whatever manner you can.

Nobody really remembers the team that played the quality football and lost. They only remember the team that comes out on top.

I was at Easter Road in March when we battered into Hibs, outplayed them, outfought them and won the match. Then, a week later, we lose at St Mirren on a cold and miserable midweek night. We all know what happened after that so results are key.

Robbie and his coaches are building a resilience and character which wasn’t there before. We are getting through games now which, in the recent past, we wouldn’t have because the Hearts team had a soft centre.

Changing that mentality doesn’t happen overnight. It’s great to be winning whilst the mindset has changed. Hopefully it takes us back to the Premiership.

It’s also pleasing to see a certain commitment to developing youth. Everybody knows my feelings on that. The last ten to 15 years hasn’t been good enough in that area for the facilities Hearts have.

The ratio of players getting into the first team and staying there has been nothing other than abysmal. Now, they are being developed by people like Robbie and Lee McCulloch who know what it’s about.

I hear people saying: ‘You cannae be hard on young players.’ Sorry, you have to do what it takes to get them ready. They need all the tools to survive in the first-team long term. Hopefully we are now building for the long term.

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