Gary Mackay: Yutaro Oda's quick feet and speed are just what Hearts need

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Japanese forward offers so much potential and we are now getting to see some of it.

Without getting carried away, Saturday at Tynecastle Park was a delight to watch. Six goals, Lawrence Shankland looking like a free spirit with a hat-trick, two goals for Josh Ginnelly, and Alex Cochrane chipping in. Every Hearts player played their part but I particularly enjoyed watching Yutaro Oda.

He hasn’t had much game time since arriving in January and seemed to come to life against Ross County. He was actually a bit too unselfish in terms of not scoring but he showed his pace and ability. There wasn’t a reliance on Barrie McKay, which I felt there had been for a long time in terms of our creativity.

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Oda’s mobility and quick feet will always stand him in good stead. If you get the ball to him early enough where there is open space behind the opposing defence, he will be able to use that space and hurt teams. We saw some glimpses of that on Saturday and nobody had really seen that from him beforehand.

We need to remember he would have gone through a settling-in period after coming from Japan. This is a different culture with different demands and it’s a big change for him. After Saturday, you are coming away from Tynecastle thinking he has a far greater chance now after witnessing that display.

Like every player and the management team, tougher tests are now coming in the final five games. We talk about the Hearts DNA and the expectancy of supporters. They are right to expect because they are filling Tynecastle for every game. That is something the players have to manage. They managed it wonderfully well on Saturday thanks to a really strong and aggressive performance.

That’s the way it should be at Tynecastle. Losing at Easter Road wasn’t great and away defeats have been quite prominent in our season. So the only way you are going to challenge for European places is by winning home games. Winning them in a convincing manner build confidence.

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I suspect the only disappointment for coaches, players and fans is the fact there is a break this weekend. Hopefully the response from Saturday is carried into training and helps the manager prepare for the first game after the split against Celtic. It’s an opportunity to build on the solid base against County.

Yutaro Oda enjoyed his best Hearts performance so far against Ross County on Saturday.Yutaro Oda enjoyed his best Hearts performance so far against Ross County on Saturday.
Yutaro Oda enjoyed his best Hearts performance so far against Ross County on Saturday.

We need to remember we were playing the team at the bottom of the table, but you can only beat who you are up against. I remember playing in teams which built a commanding lead at times in games and then took the foot off the gas. Hearts didn’t do that at the weekend until really late on when they were making changes.

If you are looking at these last few weeks as Steven Naismith’s chance to audition for the manager’s job, then the performance and result at Easter Road wasn’t great. He only had a few days to put his own stamp on the team. Then, the following week after more time to work with players on the training field, there is a 6-1 victory to celebrate.

You now hope that work can be replicated this week and next week prior to the Celtic match.