Both Hearts and Aberdeen have shown great ambition and they can push champions Celtic all the way for the Ladbrokes Premiership title.
Aberdeen have progressed year on year under Derek McInnes and I expect them to be strong throughout the season.
But Hearts in particular have been very creative in the transfer market. They’ve plundered Europe and made some astute signings. Under the guidance of Robbie Neilson they can be a threat.
Their recruitment has focussed on very robust players who can deal with the physicality of the British game and that could be crucial.
Like Chelsea in the Premier League under Jose Mourinho, Hearts have built a solid foundation and they’ll be able to handle playing in the most difficult venues during the harsh winter months.
Sometimes you have to dig out those 1-0 wins on poor playing surfaces. Pitches deteriorate in Scotland far more than south of the border and you need a side that can deal with that.
Even before the start of the season I really believed that Hearts can go the distance. There’s an energy and belief coming from the club that’s infectious.
Robbie is a friend of mine and so is the chief scout. Every single person at Tynecastle is pulling in the right direction and that’s clear for all to see.
Will their results against Celtic decide where the league title ends up? I don’t think so.
It’s about taking care of the other teams and Hearts have done that in their opening four games.
Their title challenge will come from being consistent over the course of the campaign.
Irregardless of whether Celtic get through to the Champions League group stages, they’ll be pushed all the way.
Criticism of Jackie McNamara is unfair, he’s not a miracle worker
As a manager you’re always under pressure. But what people need to understand is that regardless of how good a coach you are if you do not have the right players at your disposal then it’s difficult to get the results.
When you have the right staff and you blend that in with coaching ability you get a decent product.
And with Jackie McNamara, every time he’s developed a team it’s been taken away from him.
He’s lost so many of his best players and needs support. You can’t expect miracles.
When results don’t go well people point fingers at the manager but with Dundee United you have to look further than that.
Brendan Rodgers didn’t become a bad coach at Liverpool last year. He just lost one of his best players in Luis Suarez.
You can’t simply expect a team to function in the same manner if time and time again you’re being weakened.
We have to get away from this manager bashing. Jackie might need another year to re-build that group.
Of course, a lot of pressure will be lifted if Dundee United beat Celtic this weekend. But the psychological aspect of playing the Old Firm is difficult for all teams to overcome.
Jackie needs to get his players to believe that they can beat the likes of Celtic home and away.
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