Marvin Bartley believes ‘narrow minded’ view of Livingston’s style may have cost Gary Holt


MARVIN BARTLEY reckons the perception of Livingston’s playing style has put other clubs off approaching boss Gary Holt.

The Lions have been punching well above their weight for the past two seasons despite having one of the lowest budgets in the top-flight.

They comfortably secured Premiership survival in Holt’s first campaign in charge and were in fifth spot this term prior to the Scottish football shut-down.

Should the top-flight campaign be called as things stand, it would be Livingston’s highest league finish since they qualified for Europe in 2001/02.

Bartley is the first to accept that functional Livi play to their strengths and shy away from daft risks – which Holt makes no apologies for – but believes that may be the reason no suitors have swooped for their impressive gaffer.

He said: “I think other teams looking at Gary [Holt] and saying ‘we don’t want to play that way’ has probably stopped teams from approaching him.

“There are some narrow-minded people in football who are going to assume he’ll play a certain way, no matter where he goes.

“But I know first-hand that he is a good enough coach to adapt.

“He has other sessions that he puts on with us that prove that he can go another way. He CAN make teams play from the back but, let’s be honest, we [Livingston] are not good enough to do that.

“Yes, we try to get the ball down and play in the final third and we have some talented individuals but, in terms of playing out from the back, that would cause more problems than anything.”

Holt’s free-flowing Falkirk side, with the likes of Craig Sibbald, Jay Fulton and Conor McGrandles all shining, were a fine example of that versatility.

And Bartley is adamant Holt would thrive if handed the reins of a bigger club with a playing squad more conducive to silky soccer.

Bartley told the Scottish Football Coaching podcast: “We play to a style that maybe not everyone enjoy but it’s the style that allows us to get the best out of our players. That shows a different style of coaching.

“We all want to be Pep Guardiola, playing out from the back, but you might not get that opportunity and you need to work with what you have.

“Gary has told me that he doesn’t have a specific philosophy – some people might think that is wrong, some will think it is right.

“But if he went to Celtic, he wouldn’t play the same way as he did at Livingston.”