Mark Burchill unfazed by task ahead with Livingston

Mark Burchill said it was a proud day when he was given the Livi job
Mark Burchill said it was a proud day when he was given the Livi job
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Like his predecessor, new Livingston manager Mark Burchill doesn’t believe in standing still.

Thrust into the hotseat in wake of John McGlynn’s departure from the Energy Assets Arena on Tuesday, the former Celtic and Hearts striker makes his first foray into management with the unenviable task of preserving the Championship status of a Lions side four points adrift of Cowdenbeath at the foot of the table.

The 34-year-old is far from an unfamiliar face around the Livi dressing-room, however, having assisted McGlynn right up until he departed after 15 months in charge.

Burchill has also started the club’s previous two matches and scored his first goal of the season in the 5-1 demolition of Raith Rovers almost two weeks ago. But as a manager standing on his own two feet, he is, largely, an unknown quantity.

Asked if he feels daunted by the challenges ahead, Burchill insisted: “Absolutely not. My remit is to keep Livingston in the league. I think that was probably outlined at the start of the season so I’m going to be giving it my all to make sure we remain in this division. I know there is enough quality in the dressing-room despite the five-point deduction.

“I don’t feel daunted by what lies ahead whatsoever. I’ve played all over the world and been in far worse situations than this. I started off at Rotherham with minus 15 points so I’ve been there, seen it and done it, so to say I’m inexperienced in football isn’t true. I’ve worked with over 30 top-level managers so there is so much I can take from them.

“I’ll work with what I’ve got and hopefully I’ll get the best out of them. I need to try and change the mentality of the players at the club and hopefully that will take us forward in the weeks to come. Results will ultimately decide whether I stay in the job beyond the end of the season so I’ll be giving Livingston everything I can.”

McGlynn’s pain is Burchill’s gain and he intends to make the most of an opportunity that has perhaps presented itself sooner than he might have envisaged.

However, taking into consideration the debut impacts of Robbie Neilson at Hearts and James Fowler at Queen of the South, like Burchill, 34, it’s a task he feels ready to embrace irrespective of the constraints that plagued McGlynn’s management reign.

“It’s the nature of football,” he said. “Obviously, I was shocked to see John leave the club but it has given me a fantastic opportunity to get myself into management and it’s a challenge I firmly believe I can overcome.

“I’ve seen so many managers come and go at every football club I’ve been at. There’s always a lift with change, regardless of the reasons why, so the last couple of days in training the players have been fantastic. I feel there is a very quiet confidence within that dressing-room that we’ve got enough to get out of this situation.

“It was a very proud day for myself when the board said to me they wanted me to take the club forward,” he continued. “I grew up in Livingston, my old school is 200 yards from the stadium, so I’ve always had a real affinity with the club even though I never played with them in my career up until the last couple of years. It was always a club I looked out for when the results came in.”

A meaty proposition awaits Burchill and his players tomorrow when the team bus journeys along the M8 to tackle Rangers. Like Livi, the crisis-hit Ibrox outfit don’t have their troubles to seek. Manager Ally McCoist is set to take charge of the team tomorrow despite serving his 12 months’ notice at the club.

“Rangers are a good football team with some very good players regardless of what people say about the club right now,” said Burchill. “So we know what quality they’ve got and hopefully we’ll be able to handle them. I’m going to try and win every football match, no matter the way I set out the team so we’ll be chasing every point we can get.”

On the playing style his team are likely to adopt, Burchill added: “You could say my philosophy is I want to pass the ball, I want to keep the ball for 90 per cent of the possession but I know fine well only Barcelona can do that.

“I do want to play good and entertaining football but at the end of the day I need to try and manipulate the players in a way that can get them winning football matches.”