Hearts CEO lays out Celtic and Rangers yardstick by which next manager will be judged
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The Tynecastle club are on the hunt for a permanent successor to Robbie Neilson after the former head coach was relieved of his duties on Sunday following a run of five straight defeats. Stevie Naismith has been placed in interim charge until the end of the season with the hope of reclaiming third place.
Hearts have spoken often over the last couple of seasons about the ambition to get closer to Celtic and Rangers, though it hasn’t been backed up by results. They’re lost seven straight to Rangers and eight straight to Celtic.
McKinlay knows it’ll be a very tall order to put pressure on either of them at the top of the table, but would like to see the team perform better in the head-to-head matches, particularly against the Ibrox club.
"I’ve never talked about catching the Old Firm. I’d love to be able to challenge the Old Firm. Do I believe we can get closer to them? Absolutely. But it’s very, very difficult.
“If you look at Celtic’s record this year, they’re in line to get a record points total in excess of the ‘invincible’ season. So, let’s be realistic about it. Rangers’ record actually this season looks dreadful behind Celtic’s but in any other season it would stand by it.
“But I think we sh ould be third and I’ll tell you what I do think, we should be performing better when we play them, Rangers in particular.
“I’ve seen us have good performances against Celtic. In fact, I would say in the last few weeks our best football was the first-half at Celtic Park, where I thought we were dynamic and really got in about them. But I haven’t seen us do that against Rangers and I don’t know why. We don’t seem to lay a glove on Rangers for some bizarre reason and we have to start doing that.
“I look at Hearts that as a team over the years, especially at Tynecastle, will beat Rangers and will beat Celtic on occasion here. Since I’ve been here over the last few years I haven’t seen that and I want to see that again.”