Gary Mackay: Reality bites but Hearts boss will be OK

Ryan Stevenson scores at Fir Park. Picture: David Lamb
Ryan Stevenson scores at Fir Park. Picture: David Lamb
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The positivity at Hearts a few months ago came from what Gary Locke was able to get out of the team earlier in the season, but, although everyone who loves the club was willing that to continue, anyone with any professional nous would have been all too aware that there was a danger things might tail off.

Any Hearts supporter not allowing their heart to rule their head would have been all too aware that staying up was always going to be a real long shot. It was still a long shot after we beat Aberdeen and it remains a long shot now. There’s a lot of disappointment about at the moment, and understandably so, but let’s not forget we’ve just gone to a high-flying Motherwell team and generally matched them with a team of kids.

Of course, it’s another disappointment to lose so late in the game after getting in front, as we did at Ross County. You can’t legislate for the first goal Motherwell scored because it was simply a wonder strike from young Craig Moore that you can’t do much to stop. The problem was that we once again showed our inexperience in not being able to see out a draw.

I’m really disappointed because I know how much work is going on behind the scenes by a management team whose hands are tied behind their backs. They can only prepare the team so much, though – they can’t make every individual decision for the players on the pitch. Lockey will be gutted but the resilience that allowed him to play professional sport at the level he did will ensure he bounces back. It seems he and the team are having to recover from a major setback every week just now, but the manager will be able to handle it.

He’s got so much experience as a player, a captain, a coach and now a manager – make no mistake, he’ll be fine.

He can also take heart from the fact that, for all the disappointment around the club at the moment, they haven’t really been outclassed by anyone this season. That in itself is an achievement of sorts considering some people expected us to be routine whipping boys.

Throughout the season, we’ve always had one eye on what’s been going on elsewhere and the saving grace while we’ve been dropping points has always been that St Mirren and Kilmarnock weren’t winning games either.

That was never going to last forever, though. Unfortunately, on Saturday, the two of them won while we got beat, so that just makes this weekend’s trip to Rugby Park even more crucial to our faint survival hopes.

We have the League Cup tie at Easter Road looming next Wednesday, but Saturday’s game has to get everybody’s focus at the moment. It’s massive for us. After the Killie game, we’ll have a better idea of where we are because we’ll have played every team once, including the sides we expect to be our main rivals.

On another note, the one positive for the week is that ticket sales seem to be going well for the cup tie at Easter Road and the tickets appear to have been priced sensibly. That tie should bring some welcome income to the club, which is a major plus. But then, on the other hand, I was left bamboozled when I saw that we had arranged a pointless friendly in November against Wolfsburg. People are already ploughing every spare penny they have into supporting the club and into the Foundation of Hearts, yet here the club are asking them to fork out again for a fund-raising game which most fans and players could really do without.