Hearts legend Gary Mackay has warned owner Ann Budge that supporters will start to question her stewardship over her ‘blind faith’ in embattled manager Craig Levein.
Fans’ frustrations boiled over on Saturday as a large crowd demanded that Levein step down in a protest outside the main stand following the 3-2 home loss to Motherwell.
The Gorgie side sit bottom of the Premiership, having taken two points from their opening five games, but supporters’ concerns go back all the way to last October’s Betfred Cup semi-final loss to Celtic.
Since then Hearts have only won six times in 33 league games.
Budge has been praised for rebuilding the club after initially putting in £2.5 million of her own money to take Hearts out of administration in 2014.
However, all-time leading appearance holder Mackay, who played for the Tynecastle outfit for 17 years, insists the successful businesswoman’s continued faith in the former Scotland boss has left fans bewildered.
He said: “There has been a level of loyalty shown since the Robbie Neilson era ended, where one Scottish Cup final and a League Cup semi-final appearance has broken through nothing short of mediocrity and less – that can’t be the acceptance with the money that has been ploughed into the playing staff.
“What is the Plan B, and is there a Plan B?
“It does not matter what walk of life you’re in. Has Ann got people who are, one, knowledgable about football, and, two, have an opinion based on non-biased views because I keep hearing it said that people have it in for Craig because they don’t particularly like him?
“Unfortunately if you continue to have what a lot of people think as blind faith in the manager, then you are going to be questioned.
“That’s what football supporters do.
“I know how strong her feelings are for the football club. Nobody can question the development of Heart of Midlothian Football Club off the pitch with the structure that has been put in place.”
Mackay and Levein have never been close but the former insists his criticism of the current Hearts boss has nothing to do with their lack of friendship.
He added: “The personal feelings from myself and one or two other pundits are about the betterment of what is undoubtedly the third biggest club in Scotland.
“At this moment in time, the third biggest club who are sitting bottom of the league, having had three homes games.
“If you could have handpicked them, you would have picked those three teams.
“We’ve won four league games in the calendar year.
“Yes players will support their manager but the best way to do that is on the pitch and that’s getting results.
“If they’re not getting the results does mean they’re either not playing for the manager or not playing for the club, or both?
“Since Robbie Neilson left, on the footballing side it has gone downhill and comments attributed to the manager over the period of his tenure have been nothing short of delusional.
“There was the one at the weekend about being only six points off fourth position.
“That is taking supporters for being a lot less worthy than they are.”