Gary Mackay: Unity vital at Hearts after difficult week

Craig Levein appeared keen to take the focus off his players - who have been excellent all season - following the heavy defeat by Celtic
Craig Levein appeared keen to take the focus off his players - who have been excellent all season - following the heavy defeat by Celtic
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Pulling together is the most important thing for Hearts after a difficult week.

We had the disappointment of a potential winner being disallowed late in the Hibs game and then having to go and face the champions with a weakened squad. The margin of the defeat is the biggest concern for me. Whether that has an effect will be determined when we see the response against Kilmarnock.

When you suffer a heavy loss like that – and I was part of many myself at Celtic Park – there can be more negative vibes in your head. It will be important to see how we respond against a Kilmarnock team punching above their weight under Steve Clarke.

The group needs to stay together and get through this.

The manager must have felt he did get it wrong at the weekend for him to come out and take reponsibility like he did. Did he also do that to take the pressure off the players, who have been excellent all season? He could have done that after the margin of the defeat, so that players didn’t feel too disheartened.

Hearts are still sitting top of the league having only picked up one point in six, which shows you how well they had been doing previously. They got to a cup semi-final, came very close to victory in an Edinburgh derby and then lost away to the champions. There is no embarrassment in any of that.

What is important now is that, having suffered those negatives, you remember we’re still top of the league into November. You have to be happy with that.

Now everybody will be looking for a response at Tynecastle this weekend before we go into an international break. The squad is still more than capable of beating Kilmarnock on their day even allowing for the fact we have Christophe Berra, John Souttar, Uche Ikpeazu and Steven Naismith all missing through injury.

I suspect, if we beat Kilmarnock, Hearts would rather keep playing than stop for international fortnight. However, it’s important we get back to winning again so that we resume in a couple of weeks time ready to motor through the winter.