Livingston boss sounds fuming with his team's reputation ahead of Celtic clash

By David Walton

March 6, 2022

Livingston boss David Martindale doesn’t sound pleased with his team’s “kick and rush” reputation heading into today’s game against Celtic.

The Hoops haven’t won in any of their 5 trips to the Tony Macaroni Arena since Livingston’s promotion back in the 2017/18 campaign. Celtic have struggled badly with Livi’s physicality and have lacked a real presence in the final third to really trouble the Lions’ backline.

However, there is undoubtedly a large element that believes Livingston are only that – a physical team who use their plastic pitch to make life difficult for the opposition. Yet Martindale currently has the West Lothian outfit up at joint-4th, and he’s been keen to point out their away record as he vociferously defended their image.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

As quoted by The Herald, Martindale said: “I don’t think we get the credit we are due. We are seen as big physical Livingston but I have the three smallest central midfielders in the Premiership. Until we brought back Jack Nouble, other than the two central defenders we aren’t exactly a big side. The midfielders and strikers were all average heights or less, so we aren’t exactly a big strapping team.

“We have the third-best away record in the league but all people want to talk about is the plastic pitch. It is quite lazy from people but we have had it for a few years.

“Even this year was disappointing. It does not bother you but it does to a certain degree with the number of pundits and media who say ‘Livingston will be 12th’. I sometimes wonder why they think that. Look where we are just now. We climbed to 4th in the Premiership in midweek but no doubt will be favourites to go down again next year. I don’t know why that is.”

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David Martindale left deeply annoyed with Livingston image

Livingston do indeed have a big image problem. That can’t be denied, and it also can’t be denied that from many it comes from a place of ignorance. For the Lions do indeed have some terrific ball players who are anything but plain old-fashioned hatchet men.

Looking around their squad, you can see some of the talent available to them. Alan Forrest, for example, has been lighting things up for them in the final third. Striker Bruce Anderson, meanwhile, has 13 goals this season [Transfermarkt].

You can understand Martindale’s frustration. They’ve won at the likes of Easter Road, Dens Park, and Tannadice in recent months. Their success is hardly limited to the plastic surface that will greet Celtic upon our arrival to the Tony Macaroni today.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But their approach in big games doesn’t help their reputation. They’ll put 11 men behind the ball for 90 minutes and today and get aggressive with every challenge they put in on a Celtic player. They did the same at Parkhead back in October and in our first meeting in Livingston back in September.

That’s their style when facing bigger sides in front of the TV cameras. They sit back and absolutely stifle the game. It’s frustrating from a viewer’s perspective considering you want to see 2 sides going at it. And it probably doesn’t help that Livi are good at what they do either.

So whilst Martindale is right to bemoan an image concern that’s, in truth, deceiving; Livingston don’t particularly help that narrative. You’ll likely see exactly why this afternoon.

In other news, Ange Postecoglou states Chris Jullien’s Celtic chance could come “sooner rather than later