Gary Mackay: This week is a huge fork-in-the-road moment for Hearts
Two wins lifts the mood but two defeats leaves many questions
We have arrived at a fork-in-the-road moment at Tynecastle Park.
Do we wake up next Monday morning seventh in the Ladbrokes Premiership, with two victories out of 11 and a place in the final of the Betfred Cup?
With the squad Hearts have, I still don’t think that would be good enough, but it would appease some people if that was the case. From where we are right now, if that was the scenario next Monday morning, people would probably accept it.
On the other hand, if we wake up and we are possibly bottom of the league and out of the Betfred Cup, then what? I would like to think there will be questions to answer, but unfortunately I don’t think there are ever any questions answered.
The warning signs were there from the early stages of the Betfred Cup. However, by hook or by crook, we have somehow got to a semi-final. With St Johnstone in the league tomorrow night in Perth, this is indeed a pivotal week.
The mood is not great after Saturday’s goalless draw against ten-man Livingston. When you look at Livingston’s other results, a draw probably isn’t a bad result. However, it still means Hearts are going into the final game of the first quarter with only one Premiership victory. We are one point off the foot of the table and nothing is changing. I think some people are now thinking: ‘Ach, I’m not really bothered anyway.’
When you get that kind of apathy, it becomes concerning to me. Sport is all about passion and desire. If you are going to take part in sport, even if it’s just down at the Corn Exchange, you don’t go just for a laugh. You go because you have a desire to get involved and you go along to perform and win. That’s always been the Scottish psyche.
It could all change, not so much if we beat St Johnstone, but if we beat Rangers. If we win tomorrow night at McDiarmid Park, the best we can be after the first round of league games is seventh in the table. I’ve already stated here that we have built such a big squad to help us cope with injuries and suspensions. It is strong enough to contend with everything that’s going on.
Sunday’s game becomes such a big game now because I think the supporters have been hanging on, thinking this is the one game which could turn things around. It maybe is. I don’t think we can afford to get beat at St Johnstone but, no matter what happens in Perth, Sunday’s game becomes a marker this early in the season.
I attended the equivalent game last year when Aberdeen beat Rangers in a really dour, drab affair. They lost in the final but it gives you a wee bit of momentum going forward. Hopefully that’s something Hearts can do. My only disappointment is that Rangers are playing Ross County – no disrespect to them – on Wednesday and not Porto on Thursday.