Gary Mackay: Summer business will be critical for Hearts

A section of Hearts supporter booed the departing Sam Nicholson
A section of Hearts supporter booed the departing Sam Nicholson
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With only four games to play against teams above us in the league, I’d be very surprised if Hearts could turn around a six-point gap and make it into Europe.

It’s looking very much like a case of roll on the summer. We’d have had a glimmer of hope of catching St Johnstone if we had beaten Partick Thistle, but it speaks volumes that, after getting back into the game, we then fell behind against ten men. It’s not good enough.

I’ve heard claims that we’re making progress, which I find staggering. Progress is what the likes of Celtic, Aberdeen, St Johnstone, Partick Thistle and even Kilmarnock have been making this season. We’re making progress off the pitch, but progress on the pitch needs to be in relation to that of our rivals and it’s pretty evident that’s not been the case this season.

What the supporters have had to endure recently has been totally unacceptable. We’re now in a position where what happens in the summer, in terms of who comes into the club and who goes out, is critical because it is imperative that we start next season strongly after this grim campaign.

Yes, we had to change head coach midway through, but it shouldn’t have knocked us off course so badly. St Mirren changed their manager – ironically bringing in Jack Ross, a man we deemed fit to let go of – and they have kicked on. Likewise, Kilmarnock have changed manager midway through the season and haven’t exactly lost their way.

The mood around Hearts at present was reflected by the booing of Sam Nicholson when he came on. I have real sympathy for Sam – he didn’t deserve that. He’s made a decision about his own future, which he’s perfectly entitled to do. He’s a Hearts player at this moment in time who has come through the academy, the same as Callum Paterson. While playing for Hearts, no player deserves to be booed simply because they are not signing a new contract. Robbie Neilson didn’t get booed in his last game in charge even though he’d decided to leave for MK Dons. I don’t necessarily agree with Sam’s decision because I’m not convinced he’s ready to leave Hearts, but ultimately it’s his career and his livelihood he has to think about. If he wants to go elsewhere and work in a different environment, that’s his prerogative as a professional footballer.