Gary Mackay: Hearts’ win at Motherwell rammed my criticism back down my throat

As a Hearts supporter, if people are criticising and making their feelings known, you want your team to ram those words down their throats. I have to say that’s what Friday night’s performance did to me after last week’s comments on these pages.

Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 6:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 7:30 am
Hearts players congratulate Michael Smith after he opened the scoring against Motherwell. Pic: SNS

In relation to the start of the season, I think what I said in my previous column was correct but the win at Motherwell certainly answered my criticism. It was a really positive building block, apart from Jamie Walker’s injury.

I thought the overall performance was excellent at Fir Park. We showed a bit of resilience after losing the goal and came out victorious to once again progress to the next round of a domestic cup competition. That lifted the fans’ enthusiasm, crucially.

The win takes us into Sunday’s game against a Celtic side which has looked fragile defensively so far this season. Do we go there and try to show up those fragilities, use a solid base and have a go at them? Or do we go and sit there and allow ourselves to be lambs to the slaughter. That decision will need to be made this week.

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We always go to Parkhead and Ibrox with a gameplan. It’s not always a positive gameplan but there is a gameplan. I would like Hearts to play themselves into the match but make sure that, when we get into the final third, we have good support from midfield. It could be a midfield five supporting a lone striker.

When you see Conor Washington’s movement as well as his physical strength, I think he could do well against a weak Celtic centre-back pairing. He can hold the ball in and play it into channels to get us in behind them. If he can do that, we need to get support to him and make sure we put Celtic under pressure at the back.

Looking at the goals Celtic have lost against Cluj and Dunfermline at home, then frailties are there. They are probably still searching for their best 11, particularly at the back. Hearts are still searching for their best team as well, let’s not forget. When a team looks frail in defence then the best thing to do is have a go at them. I really hope we can do that on Sunday.

There is nothing for us to lose. The expectation level is pretty low due to the financial gulf between the two clubs.

We now have a very big squad, which concerns me slightly because I think it’s now 34 players in the first-team pool. Now, you will get injuries and suspensions to cope with, but that is a lot of mainly senior professionals to keep happy. Keeping them all content, while getting results, while improving the league position, while also having an eye on the Betfred Cup quarter-final with Aberdeen it’s a lot of things to juggle.

Turning what was undoubtedly a poor start to the season into a much more positive feeling around the football side would be done if we could come away with some kind of point gained at Celtic Park.