The Sunday Post (Inverness)
Title success has Mackay and fans underwhelmed
Gary Mackay insists Hearts must reconnect with their supporters after clinching the Championship title. Many Hearts are sceptical about the direction the club is going in under owner, Ann Budge, and manager, Robbie Neilson. Defeats in this season’s domestic cup competitions to Brora Rangers and Alloa have also done little to placate supporters.
The league success comes just a year after Hearts were relegated from the top-flight on a points-per-game basis following a woeful campaign under Craig Levein and then Daniel Stendel
And club legend Mackay insists the club needs to convince the fans that the right infrastructure is in place on and off the pitch.
He said: “I’m delighted we are back in our rightful place after what has been a tumultuous 18 months.
“The aim at the start of the season was to get back into the Premiership, but we can’t get away from the fact the aim would also have been to progress in the two cups and that wasn’t done. There has to be a balance.
“For supporters it’s great to know there is now Premiership football ahead of us.
“But we have to learn lessons going forward, and have to be prepared because it’s a completely different animal to the Championship.
“I’m talking about the whole dynamic of the football club, and everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.
“Most football clubs are galvanised when there is a connection between the fans, the players, the board, the management – and that needs to be worked on going forward because right now there is a disconnect.”
Steve Kilgour, secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, also sees the need for an overhaul on and off the park.
He said: “I just hope we can build now for next season but I still think we need change. “There has not been enough of what we saw in the 6-0 win over Alloa on Friday night this season.
“I’ve got my doubts that this team will survive in the Premiership.
“Robbie Neilson really angered me on Friday with his post-match comments about ramming it down a few folks’ throats.
“Sorry, Robbie, you’ve been knocked out of the League Cup by Alloa and the Scottish Cup by Brora Rangers – and stumbled over the line in the league. “The title was a formality given our budget. We should have won this league a lot more comfortably.”
Friday night’s hat-trick hero, Liam Boyce, offered support to Neilson. He said: “There are high expectations, and we know the fans always want more – and they’re totally within their rights.
“As footballers we want more, so when there are questions on the gaffer, it should be us that are questioned.
“We know how hard the gaffer works and we went out against Alloa to prove a point.”