Gary Mackay: Why Hearts need to copy St Johnstone

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St Johnstone had a really poor result against Celtic when they lost 6-0 a few weeks ago, but they responded by getting angry at themselves.

We seem to have almost felt sorry for ourselves since losing to Celtic. In the last two matches, no points against Kilmarnock and St Mirren is a disappointment, even allowing for injuries.

Hearts must bounce back from a disappointing defeat by St Mirren last weekend. Pic: SNS

Hearts must bounce back from a disappointing defeat by St Mirren last weekend. Pic: SNS

You have to hope that this Sunday against Rangers and perhaps the lesser expectation that goes with it can help the players to go out relaxed and play with a freedom. That might help them get back on the scoresheet.

After the results in recent weeks, there isn’t the same expectation on the team and that’s natural. You should always be professional and give it your best in every game. That’s always the expectation.

When you’ve lost the games we have recently, it’s a worrying situation. If you then go out and perform and earn a positive result against Rangers, Celtic or Hibs, it reinvigorates everybody.

We lost to Rangers at Ibrox but they don’t tend to travel to well this season in the Premiership. We have to hope that’s the case this weekend – that they are a wee bit off kilter and we can get back to playing with a real aggression in the final third again.

There is no doubt Steven Naismith has been a huge influence on Hearts this season and that’s why Craig Levein went out on a limb to get him back on loan from Norwich. He won’t have come cheap but that’s what happens when you go for quality.

Unfortuantely, when you take that much quality out of the side, you miss it. That’s certainly been the case watching the last few games.

We seemed to be able to cover for Christophe Berra and John Souttar because we had more defensive options, but we have missed the leadership, driving force and goal threat that Steven brings.

The less-experienced players look to him for guidance on the pitch and, at this moment in time, everybody is having to look inwardly for that guidance. That’s when it becomes difficult because you can lose your own focus a wee bit. Christophe is due back and we can only hope Steven follows soon.