Andy Halliday on why it was 'disrespectful' to suggest that Hearts would go the full season unbeaten
Those who felt Hearts would steamroll the Championship this season were served a reality check on Friday night in Dunfermline.
However, for midfielder Andy Halliday, the 2-1 defeat at East End Park only reinforced his belief that the Edinburgh side will not have it all their own way in their bid to reclaim Premiership status at the first attempt.
Hearts had won eight out of eight in league and cup prior to their first setback of the season in Fife but the former Rangers man felt that any expectation to maintain a blemish-free record throughout the full campaign was a fallacious one.
"Some of the [procession] talk I thought was maybe a wee bit disrespectful to the other teams," he said. "Of course Hearts are a big club and we feel we have the quality in our squad that we can mount a serious challenge. I’ve heard a lot of talk about going unbeaten and stuff like that but even from the four games we’ve played, every team who plays Hearts it’s a real big game and test for them.”
Dunfermline’s win saw them open up a four point gap over the Jam Tarts at the top of the standings but Robbie Neilson’s side can narrow that back to a point with a victory in their game in hand against Alloa at Tynecastle on Tuesday.
"It’s about us getting back on the horse on Tuesday and try to claw back the lead they’ve got,” Halliday said.
"We’re pretty lucky we have a quick turnaround so it’s really important to put it right. We need to make sure it’s the first half performance [against Dunfermline] and not the second half.
"If you want to mount a serious title challenge, when you drop points it’s important to pick up three points in the game after so it’s a big game for us on Tuesday.
"You don’t want to take eight steps forward then two steps back, three steps back. It’s important we build up momentum again.
"The club got relegated last year and we want to bounce back at the first time of asking."
Halliday, who made his fourth start of the season against the Pars following his summer move from Ibrox, insists Hearts will not dwell on their first defeat of the campaign, stressing that the men in maroon will continue to improve as he and his fellow new signings bed in.
"It’s by no means the end of the world but when you get that winning momentum and winning mentality from eight wins out of eight you want to build on that and keep it going as long as possible,” he said. “We faced a good team and all credit to Dunfermline. We’re not here to make any excuses, I thought the first half was one of our most positive halves of the season but we maybe lacked that bit of quality in the final third.
"Dunfermline changed their shape at half-time and scored two goals that we’re disappointed to concede.
"We’re still a new squad, nine games together is not a lot. There were a few signings that have come in and we’re by no means the finished article. Even eight wins from eight, we analyse the games and realise we have a lot to improve on.”