Iain Russell: We’ll be gutted if Gary goes but he’s SPL class

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Most Livingston fans will be aware of this week’s speculation surrounding their manager Gary Bollan.

Our gaffer has been strongly linked with the St Johnstone job following the departure of Derek McInnes to Bristol City.

To be honest, it comes as no surprise to me or the rest of the squad that Gary is being linked to an SPL club. He is a young talented manager and has already been extremely successful in his short managerial career.

The boys and I are secretly hoping – selfishly – that he doesn’t move on, but we have to be realistic and know that if it is not this job it will be another in the near future.

The manager of a football club takes sole responsibility for a team’s performance and results. There is an enormous amount of pressure on him, yet it’s the players who are out there on the field. Despite having a strong exterior, Gary has a quiet way of shouldering the responsibility and takes the pressure off the players – publicly anyway!

He and assistant Scott Paterson have created an extremely happy environment and we all enjoying going to work for them. I believe it is vital for a manager to have the players on his side.

It must be difficult to try and keep 20 odd players happy all the time but, if a manager is honest and upfront with each of them, then you will have the squad’s trust. Gary has achieved this and knows he can rely on every one of his players to run through a wall for him.

I have previously been involved at a club where the boss lost the boys in the dressing-room. Through deceit, bullying and disrespecting players, the manager quickly found himself isolated. No-one would fight for him on the park and the atmosphere around the training ground became strained. The tension became very obvious to all at the club and he eventually found himself out of work.

Now, I’m not saying that players go out and don’t give their all because they don’t like the manager. Every footballer will try to play to the best of their ability.

However, if you have a manager whom you respect and trust then you are not only going to play for yourself but you will also play for him. Perhaps this is psychological but a manager who has the full respect of his squad is guaranteed to be more successful.

In the modern game, squads are so big it is impossible to play everyone but, if a manager is honest to each player, this will make it easier to keep harmony within the dressing-room.

Without sounding sycophantic we are lucky to have a manager and assistant of such a high standard. They breed enthusiasm within the team and want us all to succeed as a group and on an individual basis.

The coming weeks could be bittersweet if we lose Gary and Scott to the SPL, the squad will be gutted to lose our manager but also extremely happy for him to be in the top league in our country – where he belongs.