Gary Holt deserves to be in manager of the year contention, insists Livingston star Scott Pittman

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SCOTT PITTMAN insists Livingston boss Gary Holt deserves to be in the running for manager of the year – and reckons he could have guided the Lions into Europe if not for the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Livi midfielder has lavished praise on his gaffer after he steered the club to an impressive fifth-placed finish, their highest since 2002.

The Scottish Football Writers’ Association have announced that they plan to hand out their end of season gongs even though the campaign was curtailed, with Celtic gaffer Neil Lennon and Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson big favourites.

However, Pittman reckons it would be foolish to overlook Holt, who made a mockery of pre-season predictions of a relegation battle to finish above the likes of Hibs, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock.

Pittman said: “I would definitely say Gary deserves to be in that [manager of the year] conversation.

“There’s another couple of managers who have done an excellent job but when you consider the fact we have one of the lowest budgets in the league and some of the results – finishing fifth, beating Celtic – then he should be spoken about.

“It would be nice, and merited, if he was to at least be nominated, but I reckon he’s probably not bothered in the slightest! If he goes under the radar and Livingston win games, he’ll be happy.

“The gaffer has realised from day one that he didn’t need to change too much. He just built on the positivity that was around the club and has added his own touches to that.

“He’s a relaxed guy and has total confidence in what we are capable of but, at the same time, he has played at such a high level and when he talks, you listen.

“We lost some big players last summer in Liam Kelly, Declan Gallagher, Craig Halkett, but Gary replaced them and maintained a strong group and brilliant dressing room this season. He’s done an incredible job.”

However, Pittman reckons Livi could have climbed even higher and replicated the club’s continental qualification of 18 years ago if the campaign had been completed.

The West Lothian outfit were just six points behind Aberdeen – and a Europa League berth – and determined to hunt down the Dons when the league was halted on March 13.

He added: “It’s a little bittersweet because, although fifth is a great achievement, we really felt like we could have challenged for fourth and even third.

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“We had three games left before the split, playing well and the confidence was flowing. Within the group, we felt there was a chance we could go higher.”

Meanwhile, Pittman, who took his total appearances for Livingston to 220 with his last outing on March 7 – clear in second in the all-time list behind teammate Keaghan Jacobs – insists they will never get tired of upsetting the odds.

He continued: “We get written off every year. That’s fine. Even going back to three years ago when we were in the Championship under David Hopkin, we had only just come up from League 1 and no-one expected us to do anything, let alone win promotion.

“We always seem to be one of the favourites for relegation and always respond – and this was another season to be proud of.”

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