Gary Mackay: The way for Hearts to win at Hampden will be to have a go at Celtic
Last Saturday’s objective for Hearts was simply to make sure we got past Inverness Caledonian Thistle and booked our place in the Scottish Cup final, so it was a case of job done.
We can quibble about the fact all our goals came from set-pieces but we’re clearly skilled in that department and there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
By getting to the final, there’s now a fresh excitement about the club because we know we’re involved in the last game of the season and are just 90 minutes away from winning a cup. If we can do that, it would be a culmination of the supporters’ endeavours, along with Ann Budge, to try and reinvigorate the football club.
It’s a great day for the supporters to look forward to. Because we’re playing Celtic, there won’t be anything like the level of expectation on Hearts as there might have been if they had been playing Aberdeen.
The pressure will all be on our opponents because it’s a potentially momentous day for them in terms of chasing the treble-treble.
My real desire is that we go on the front foot and press them. No matter whether Steven Naismith is fit or not, we need to treat it as win-or-bust. There’s nothing to lose for Hearts because most people will expect Celtic to win, so we can embrace our role as underdogs and try and cause an upset on the day. For me, the best way to do that is by being aggressive and having a go at Celtic, rather than sitting in and trying to contain them.
Celtic have three or four real quality players who are on a different level to anything Hearts have but by the same token there are a few players, particularly at centre-back and right-back, who I feel would be vulnerable if Hearts went about the game in a positive manner and were able to put them under pressure.
Getting to the cup final has clearly lifted the morale of the supporters and I hope it has a positive effect on the players for the remainder of the league campaign. Ultimately we want to go into the cup final in the best fettle possible so a good run of form in the league wouldn’t do us any harm in that regard.
The last league game of the season will be a peculiar one because we’re against Celtic and nobody knows at this stage how the two managers will approach that one and whether they will play fringe men or not, but we certainly have to look to use the other four games as a chance to put down a marker before the cup final and also for next season.
We need to bear in mind that, in the event that we don’t win the Scottish Cup, our season will be judged primarily by how we’ve done in the league so it’s important that we don’t end our Premiership campaign with a whimper. Given where we were in the league at present, it shouldn’t necessarily be about targeting a specific position in the table, it should be about focusing on trying to win as many of the last five games as possible and seeing if it’s enough to lift us up a position or two.
Rangers are first up on Saturday so hopefully we will have a real edge and a buzz to our play on the back of winning the semi-final last weekend.
Rangers had a great result at Motherwell in their last game so they won’t be easy to beat, but, as is always the case at Tynecastle, if we approach it in the right manner we will have a good chance of winning.