Gary Mackay: Stewart has played captain's role in reversal of fortune

TAKE a bow, Michael Stewart. I have to admit I was a bit critical of our captain earlier in the season but I've got to hold my hands up and give credit where it's due. I've always had great respect for his ability but I felt he had to start showing it week in, week out. There were times earlier in the season when people questioned whether he should be captain after a few moments of indiscipline.

But, since the Hamilton game, I have to say he has been absolutely outstanding. He's showed terrific leadership qualities during our excellent run of form. I thought he was excellent against Hibs yesterday and long may it continue.

I also think Michael will appreciate the part Eggert Jonsson has played in his good form. Young Eggert has also been excellent in the middle of the park and the two of them are forming a really strong partnership in there.

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Great credit also has to go to the manager. Like Michael, I was a bit critical of Csaba Laszlo earlier in the season. When things aren't going well at a club sometimes it can totally dissolve for the manager. But I think the way Csaba has turned things round in the past month or so proves he definitely has real qualities as a manager. I'm sure he'll admit he maybe made a few mistakes earlier in the season, but during this unbeaten run he's reminded us why he was named manager of the year last season. What he's getting from this group of players at the moment is excellent.

I have to say I was delighted with my team yesterday. The last five or six games, the Hamilton game apart, have been excellent for Hearts and I sense there's a real momentum building. The only disappointment for me is that we didn't go on and win the game because I thought, if you look at it over the piece, Hearts deserved all three points.

I didn't think there was anything between the teams in the first half and, to be honest, if we had gone in 0-0 at half-time I would have been quite happy. But young Gordon Smith scored an outstanding goal. People should also remember the quality of the build-up – it was a wonderful cross from Ruben Palazuelos.

Gordon will take great confidence from his goal. I thought he and Christian Nade did really well together. Christian was excellent for 70 minutes. He definitely did tire in the last 20 minutes but I think that's something that we've grown to accept from such a bulky lad. People say he's carrying excess weight but I don't think that's the case at all. I think he's just so strong that his bulk weighs him down a bit. I think Gordon had three or four shots at goal and that's the first time I can remember saying that about a Hearts forward since Gary Glen was in the team.

It was a competitive game, but certainly not dirty, so it's disappointing that both teams ended with 10 men. In my view, the dismissals were as a result of a coming together of two players, nothing more, but sometimes referees need to show a bit of common sense in situations like that.

Looking ahead to the immediate future, as a Hearts supporter, the one worry I have is that when the expectation level rises, we sometimes fail to sustain it, so hopefully we are able to keep up the good form over the coming weeks and make a real challenge in the league and progress in the two cup competitions.

On that front, we have a really tough trip to Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup this Saturday. Outwith the Old Firm, there's no tougher place to go for a cup tie than Pittodrie. Aberdeen will get a huge lift from going to Dundee United and winning without an influential player in Lee Miller, but hopefully the lift Hearts get from the probable return of Jose Goncalves will outweigh the lift Aberdeen get from Miller's return. But if Hearts can continue to apply themselves and be led by their captain the way he has been doing in recent weeks, I see no reason why they can't go up there and win.

New director of football can help with signings

THE last week has seen some more concern among Hearts supporters about the possible lack of new faces at Tynecastle in this transfer window. I think ultimately, as supporters, just like the manager, we'll just have to wait and see what our club owner decides to do in terms of new signings. However, maybe our new director of football, Alexsandr Metliski, who I notice is a former football agent, will be able to give the manager some much-needed backing.

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Despite what people say, a lot of agents are trustworthy and honest, so hopefully our new director of football will give his insight and help our owner to start trusting agents a bit more, which will help the manager in making signings.

I'm not a great believer that a football club needs a director of football but, if there has to be one, then I feel it's important that the closest relationship is between the director of football and the manager – not the director of football and the owner of the football club.

It would give everyone a massive lift if the new man could help persuade the owner to give the manager the backing he surely deserves for the effort he's got out of these players in the last half dozen games or so.

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