Gary Mackay: Why Hearts looked soft before kick-off at Dundee - Kevin de Bruyne is the example to follow

Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne usually prefers short sleeves when playing for club and country.Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne usually prefers short sleeves when playing for club and country.
Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne usually prefers short sleeves when playing for club and country.
Even when Hearts ran out at Dens Park on Saturday night I was concerned, because I saw players looking soft before a ball was kicked.

Dundee made a stamp on the game after 57 seconds with Shaun Byrne’s challenge on Steven Naismith. However, Hearts had already made a stamp of their own, and not a particularly good one.

I thought Dundee had an advantage right away because I think the players made themselves look soft. They had long-sleeved body armour under the Hearts away shirt. It’s something that’s a real bugbear of mine.

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Some of my team-mates wore long sleeves, although I generally preferred short sleeves. I looked at that on Saturday and I thought: ‘Oh, that looks like we’re coming out a bit mollycoddled.’ Really, that was how the game went.

It typified it for me the next day when I watched a really top player playing for Manchester City against Chelsea. Kevin de Bruyne had short sleeves on in cold conditions and he kept warm because he never stopped running.

Too many Hearts players would have got cold on Saturday if they didn’t have the body armour on because their performance was less than lukewarm.

We were soft, we were second and we didn’t compete against Dundee. After the tackle against Naismith, I was expecting someone else to take up the mantle by putting a foot in from a Hearts perspective. It didn’t happen.

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We allowed Dundee to bully people and control the game. That first challenge was naughty but it set a marker down that Dundee were there for the fight. Thereafter, they got to play their football at times.

Charlie Adam, for example, is a fantastic footballer who created to goals and basically ran the football match.

If you play at a real tempo and a pace in the first half, then Charlie doesn’t get into the game because he isn’t able to manage it physically. Hearts played at such a sedate pace, it allowed Dundee to play the way they wanted to.

There were one or two incidents in the game which Hearts were right to question, but there were also one or two we perhaps got away with. Craig Gordon slipping and colliding with Osman Sow as he came out was accidental but it looked a stonewall penalty to me.

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We can moan and groan but it’s yet another away game where we haven’t done the business. Alloa in the Betfred Cup, plus Dunfermline and Dundee in the league are three away matches which makes you question things.

I’d like to think the coaching staff will be questioning something. Is it themselves? Is is the way we are set up? Is it individuals within the team who aren’t up for it?

Hearts still have a nice five-point gap at the top of the Championship but an eight-point gap would be far nicer after winning at the weekend. That would also have effectively removed Dundee from the title race.

Instead you’ve got Dundee, Dunfermline and probably Raith Rovers due to their game in hand all feeling that they’re still within touching distance. They will still continue to fight and scratch, so we need to be much more ready for that.

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