GARY HOLT is not the first manager Marvin Bartley has seen fall on his sword.
However, the Livingston skipper is praying he is the last.
Bartley admits the Lions’ squad was left shell-shocked on Thursday when Holt called a meeting to inform the players that he would be resigning after a little more than two years at the helm.
Bartley saw the footage of Holt confessing that he would consider his future following defeat against St Mirren on Saturday but swiftly wrote it off as heat-of-the-moment emotion.
So, the decision came as a bolt from the blue.
And the former Hibs hero is adamant that, even as a grizzled veteran, it never gets any easier to watch a manager walk through the exit door – particularly given Holt was the man who signed him and gave him the captain’s armband at the start of this season.
Bartley said: “Being one of the older players, I’ve probably lost my manager more than most.
“It’s never easy and considering I don’t have too long left in the game, hopefully it’s the last time a manager resigns on me.
“It never gets any easier. It’s horrible to watch someone walk away from a job that I imagined he loved. He loves football and for him to make that decision, Gary must have really thought he couldn’t do any more.
“When you do post-match interviews, your emotions can be all over the place. You are disappointed, angry, upset. I try not to read too much into post-match interviews so I didn’t think too much of what he said on Saturday.
“But he obviously decided he couldn’t take the club forward.”
As well as becoming captain during Holt’s tenure, Bartley was also afforded the opportunity to pursue his coaching aspirations by the departed gaffer.
The 34-year-old was recently appointed as reserve team manager, assisted by Efe Ambrose and Gary Maley, and has made no secret of his desire to be a boss in his own right.
However, Bartley is adamant the current vacancy comes too soon and he continues to focus on his playing responsibilities.
Bartley continued: “I’ll still do my stuff for the reserve side and if I’m ever asked to help in any other way then I’ll be here for the club, but I’ll just be focusing on playing going forward. It’s too early for me.
“I’m still enjoying playing and my focus is on that. If this was a couple of years down the line then it might be a different conversation but at this moment in time, I’m more interested in playing at first-team level.”
It will fall upon Livi’s head of football operations David Martindale and goalkeeping coach Tony Caig to take interim charge of the side for today’s Betfred Cup last-16 tie against Ayr United.
And defiant Bartley says they cannot use a tumultuous week in West Lothian as an excuse for failing to perform against their Championship visitors.
He added: “We just need to deal with it. We are paid to win football matches, not to have a hangover because of something that happens during the week. There was a lot of shock at the time but, as ruthless as it sounds, then it was time for training.
“There are no excuses on Saturday and that’s the message from the club and the captain of this club. If we don’t win the game on Saturday it’d down to us and no-one else.
“It’s a massive opportunity and a welcome distraction from the league and a huge game for many reasons.
“One of those reasons is to say ‘Gary, thank you for everything you’ve done’ and dedicate a win to him.
“Another is that we would only be one game away from Hampden.”