Gary Mackay: Why Hearts need to stop worrying about stopping Championship opponents

Firstly I want to say how great and humbling an experience it was to see a game in the flesh after I was allowed to attend Hearts’ trip to Inverness last Friday.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 4:45 pm
Liam Boyce and Craig Halkett walk off the park at full-time following Hearts 1-1 draw with Inverness last week. Picture: SNS

Like every Hearts supporter, I’ve been forced to watch games at home this season as the club look to get back to the top flight of Scottish football. It was good to see the game first hand. When you watch it on the TV you try to make logical judgement about the team and players and it’s not always as easy.

So it gives me no pleasure to say this, but I thought overall it was a poor and negative performance from the away side.

I’m a bit concerned because we’ve brought in someone like Aaron McEneff who looks like he could be a right good player if he’s given the freedom to break from the midfield, but he’s being held back a bit. He’s someone I see in the mould of a Colin Cameron as a player who wants to get on the ball and has the energy to drive forward. But he seems to be curtailed in doing that.

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Then there’s Andy Halliday. If I was the former Rangers midfielder, I'd find it difficult to play in this team. He’s got a really negative role. So many times he was instructed from the touchline to do something different than what he wanted to do, from what was his natural game. I would’ve found that hard. It would’ve bamboozled me and, as a player, you begin to question your own individual ability.

Maybe the game has changed these days, but I always remember former managers like Alex McDonald and Jim Jefferies setting us out to go and win games against teams like Bayern Munich, Austria Vienna and Red Star Belgrade. We were sent out with a positive mindset from training during the week that this was the system that Hearts were playing and it was up to the opposition to worry about us. I look at this team now and I think they’re being asked to stop opponents rather than just concentrating on winning the game.

It was like a game of chess being played from the sideline. If it’s a Celtic or a Hibs in a cup game then fair enough because they’re in a league above us just now. Should a Hearts side with six internationals in the starting XI be playing that way against Inverness?

After the last three games, draws against Queen of the South away, Morton at home and Inverness CT away, we're really fortunate that the teams behind us haven’t managed to put runs together, though I’m sure we’ll limp over the line.

I don’t want to be negative. I’m tried as hard as possible recently to be positive because I was only watching these performances on the TV and there’s a lot of stuff you can miss. I also really like Robbie. I respect him as a manager and as an individual. I didn’t want to come away from the game being as negative as this, but when I look at the squad of players that we have, we’re definitely not getting the best out of them at this moment in time.

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