Livingston manager John McGlynn believes Robbie Neilson’s meticulous approach as a player is rubbing off on his high-flying Hearts squad as the Lions welcome their Championship rivals to West Lothian tonight in the second round of the Petrofac Training Cup.
The Gorgie side have made a dream start to life in the second tier taking maximum points from their opening two league fixtures – a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Ibrox on the opening weekend was followed by an equally satisfying derby win over Hibs at Tynecastle on Sunday by the same scoreline.
But for McGlynn, whom Neilson played under in the Hearts first team when he was appointed caretaker manager in 2005, the former defender’s industrious work ethic was a glowing attribute that was always likely to stand him in good stead in his new role as head coach.
Livingston, meanwhile, picked up their first three points of the campaign on Saturday with a 2-1 win against Cowdenbeath and McGlynn is hoping for more of the same this evening at the Energy Assets Arena.
“Robbie was a great professional, a really good athlete and a brilliant trainer all the way through his career, so I’m not surprised with how he’s doing with his players,” he said. “He couldn’t have got off to a better start winning at Ibrox and then a derby game – it doesn’t really get much better than that. But hopefully we can bring him back down to earth with a bump tonight.
“We’ve had three wins out of four if you take in the cup ties (wins against Queen of the South in the previous round and Albion Rovers in the League Cup) so it’s a great start – the best start for a number of years.
“The lads are now getting a bit more confidence because we’ve got wins under our belts in competitive games. We got our first three points on the board in the league on Saturday and that is always the most valuable. Winning matches against the likes of Cowdenbeath are the games we will need to win if we are to have a good season.”
McGlynn attended the Capital derby and he felt the home side warranted the bragging rights at this early stage of the season.
A club he has fond memories from his time where he worked in youth development in addition to two spells as manager – a caretaker role nine years ago before a permanent appointment in June 2012 and his subsequent dismissal just eight months later – he appreciates there is little room for sentiment this evening.
“I think Hearts did shade it on Sunday,” McGlynn said. “I thought Hibs settled into the game better and the penalty miss seemed to spark the game into life; it obviously benefited Hearts more.
“I had all told 11 years at Hearts so it was an absolute privilege to work there. I’m delighted to see they are in a better situation now. But I’m the manager of Livingston now and all my efforts, concentration and preparations will be focused on Livingston doing the best we possibly can and if we do that then we’ll give Hearts a real game.”
With a large Hearts contingent expected, there will be a significant increase from Saturday’s attendance against Cowdenbeath when 1147 turned out for the club’s first home match of the season, which followed a 2-1 defeat by Hibs at Easter Road 11 days ago.
McGlynn added: “It was great to go down to Easter Road for the first game. There were almost 10,000 there and the atmosphere was fantastic. So if we can get a good crowd here tonight under the floodlights – I am sure it will be a really good night.”
Livingston captain Jason Talbot is a doubt for tonight’s clash after picking up a rib injury in the weekend’s victory over Cowdenbeath with former Hearts player Craig Sives standing by should the defender be deemed not fit to take his place.