GARY HOLT has revealed that some Livingston starlets are in awe of Efe Ambrose as he hailed the experienced defender for finding his voice as a coach.
The 31-year-old was recently named as Marvin Bartley’s assistant manager with the Lions reserve side and, although initially surprised by Ambrose’s desire to fill the role, Holt says he has taken to the position like a duck to water.
Former Celtic and Hibernian cult hero Ambrose has long been one of Scottish football’s great characters due to his amiable personality, acrobatic celebrations and sometimes regrettable penchant for a high-profile mistake.
However, he also boasts an enviable pedigree, including six major honours with the Hoops, an Africa Cup of Nations triumph with Nigeria and has played in the last-16 of the Champions League.
It is that experience he is drawing on when he steps on to the coaching field.
And Holt lauded: “Coaching is not something you would probably associate with Efe, but he’s really enjoying it and it’s pleasing to see.
“The younger lads are almost in awe of him at times and that’s a positive thing to have.
“He’s coming out of his shell more, too. Efe’s not very vocal but since he has taken on the role he hasn’t shut up! Sometimes I think: ‘Why did you not go down this route earlier? Why did you not offer to do it?’
“Maybe the pandemic has opened his eyes and thought he had to do something going forward. He’s certainly embraced it and long may it continue.”
While Ambrose’s tentative steps towards a career in the dugout may have taken Holt aback, Bartley has made no secret of his desire to carve out a career at the very top level of management.
He is already well on the way to attaining his coaching badges and cut his teeth working with the reserves under former bosses Steve Pittman and Derek McWilliams. last season.
Holt continued: “Marv said he wanted to coach, to learn and we felt he could do that here.
“One thing I said to him was: ‘Go and make mistakes’. It doesn’t really matter in terms of results – it’s for his development. This will help when he goes to the next stage.
“He’ll know what things worked and what didn’t; what players reacted to and what they didn’t react to. Sometimes you need to give a wee blast, some players need cajoling or prodding.
“As long as he is making mistakes for the good of the team that’s how he’ll learn and evolve as a coach – because there’s no manual! No book out there tells you what to do when you’re standing in front of players.”
Although Bartley has lofty aspirations, Holt has joked that he is not ready to hand the baton to his protege just yet, laughing: “If I see Marv as a threat I’ll get rid of him!”
And Holt is adamant both of his veteran stars are benefitting from the new perspective offered by their coaching duties as they continue to be key figures on the pitch.
He added: “It can absolutely help them as players. It’s funny, we go the games and I hear Marv shouting the same things we shout at them on a Saturday.
“I shout down sometimes and tell him: ‘Now you can see what we’re talking about!’
“It’s good for his and Efe’s development on all fronts.”