Gary Mackay: The run may be over but race is still alive

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Our excellent recent run was always going to end some time but it was still very disappointing that it came to a halt on Saturday, particularly given that such a massive Hearts support had made the journey north to Inverness.

It was on the cards that it would be tough considering the conditions were far from ideal and the fact Inverness were carrying a bit of confidence after winning their two previous games.

Unfortunately, we’ve now allowed Motherwell an opportunity to leapfrog us when they play at home to Dunfermline tomorrow, while St Johnstone could also have overtaken us by the time we play out next game against Celtic a week on Wednesday.

Although it’s disappointing that we’ve handed the initiative back to those two teams, if someone had said to us six weeks ago that we’d go on to put ourselves in with a fighting chance of third place, we’d have been delighted. We now just have to hope that Saturday’s defeat proves merely to be a minor blip and that we can overcome it in the weeks ahead.

The end of January is closing in, but I’m not getting too carried away by the fact not many big names have left yet.

I’d guess, it’s probably just a case of the inevitable being delayed by a few weeks, which is good in terms of allowing us to pick up a few more points.

As I’ve said all along, I just want us to hold on to as many experienced players as possible to help smooth the transition for any young boys who might be coming into the first team. If we’re to have any chance of challenging for third or making an impact in the Scottish Cup, it’s imperative we come out of this month with a relatively strong squad still intact.

The manager will also be required to lift the team again after Saturday, but once again I’ve been hugely impressed with the manager over the past week or so.

He was open and honest in the build-up to the game about how things were at the club, and he was brutally honest about the performance on Saturday.

He is the one person throughout all this negativity at the club over the past few months who has come out of it all with the most credit.

He deserves no shortage of kudos for the way he’s handled things and I think the players have to accept the criticism he gave them on Saturday because he has also been their biggest supporter at other times. As far as the SPL charge against Hearts over the wages saga is concerned, if there hadn’t been any issue with the wages, then the SPL wouldn’t have anything to do with Hearts at this present time. It’s as simple as that.

Some Hearts fans argue that we’re being picked on, but you can only be “picked on” if you give people the opportunity to penalise you and, sadly, Hearts have done that by not paying the players.

What we have to do now is ensure that the club is run in a more professional manner in the coming weeks and months to make sure the SPL are given no reason to consider taking any further action against us in future.

We need to get back on track on and off the park.