David Martindale looks back on his first year as Livingston manager with mixed feelings despite leading the club to a cup final and a top-six finish.
Martindale took sole charge when Gary Holt stepped down on November 26 last year, initially on a temporary basis before being confirmed in the role after passing the Scottish Football Association’s fit-and-proper tests.
The 47-year-old enjoyed one of the best starts to any managerial career, winning his first eight games and going unbeaten in 14.
The run led Livi to the League Cup final and ultimately a top-half finish in the cinch Premiership but it also left Martindale wanting more.
“It doesn’t feel like one year, it feels about 10,” he said.
“Losing a cup final is always very, very disappointing, you are 90 minutes away from picking up a trophy.
“So does it meet your expectations? Your expectations change on a weekly basis.
“Getting to a cup final was fantastic but not winning a cup final was disappointing. Top-six finish was good but then we miss out on Europe.
“On reflection you are probably going to say, yes, it meets the expectations, but it was disappointing at the same time if that makes sense.
“Once you are there, you want to win cup finals, once you are in the top six you want to get to Europe. Good at the time but disappointing on reflection.”
Martindale had previously had a major role at the club during his spell as assistant manager, taking control of recruitment for instance.
“The media is probably the only part of the job that’s changed,” he said. “Everything else from my day-to-day running of Livingston Football Club has not really changed if I’m honest.
“It’s a nice part of the job sometimes as well, it’s good to be able to actually come out and explain decisions, and explain the rationale behind a game plan.
“I can speak a bit more openly about what’s going on at the club because sometimes I think fans are kept in the dark because you have got to watch what you say. I think at Livingston and especially myself we try to be open and honest. In that respect it’s been nice to be able to come out and speak.”
Martindale’s first full season in charge was always set to be a challenge after a major squad turnaround that saw 12 players come in during the summer and heightened expectations offset by the fact that Hearts and Dundee were the teams coming up.
But Livi go into Sunday’s home game against Rangers on the back of a five-match unbeaten run and the knowledge they have taken four points off Celtic and not conceded against Ange Postecoglou’s attacking side.
“We are on a good wee run just now so we fancy our chances against anyone when they are coming to our home turf,” Martindale said.
“Going to Parkhead and playing against an in-form Celtic team, and they had all their top players available, to come away with a clean sheet speaks massive volumes for the players and their discipline and the game plan. Everyone can take massive confidence from that.
“They know they can do that against the best players in the league so there is no reason why they can’t go and repeat that against Rangers.”