David Martindale loves 'progressive' Hearts transfer work that comes with guarantee after 3 moves sealed

Livingston manager David MartindaleLivingston manager David Martindale
Livingston manager David Martindale | SNS Group
The Livingston boss loves the transfer work being done at Hearts.

David Martindale believes Hearts have shown the benefits of smart and savvy transfer business.

The Livingston boss is losing left-back James Penrice to the Tynecastle club after a pre-contract agreement was struck. But there’s no ill feeling held, with head coach Steven Naismith securing Yan Dhanda and Blair Spittal of Ross County and Motherwell respectively on a similar deals.

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Relegation-threatened Livingston come to Tynecastle on Saturday in the final pre-split Premiership clash and Martindale believes Hearts are a club to be admired, with their transfer business praised. He said: “They’ve been progressive, not just by signing James Penrice from us but in snapping up Yan Dhanda from Ross County and Blair Spittal from Motherwell on pre-contracts.

“That’s smart. For example, if I sign a player from Nigeria there is a lot of adaptation for him to make – new country and a style and tempo to football in Scotland you don’t see elsewhere. I’ll recruit from anywhere – [English] League Two, National League, Nigeria – but whoever comes in from outside will need a settling-in period.

“Whereas the chance of success with Yan Dhanda is a lot higher than someone from the second tier in Belgium or Switzerland because he has already shown he can do it here. So why wouldn’t you sign someone who has proved himself in Scotland? Players who already know the demands of this league improve your chances of enhancing your squad.

“Craig Halkett, Alan Forrest and Nicky Devlin – arguably one of Aberdeen’s best players this season – are other examples of Livingston players who have gone on to do well so that approach is a no-brainer for me. Hearts’ recruitment has been really excellent and Naisy and Joe Rice have to take huge credit for that.

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“If I was sitting at a bigger club with more resources then I’d try and sign Spittal and Dhanda. That also gives you more leeway when it comes to taking a gamble on a Kyosuke Tagawa or an Yutaro Oda but Hearts as a club have probably learned from European football.

“It was a difficult period for them under both Robbie Neilson and Steven and it’s easy to underestimate the demands of that situation. You’d maybe be able to play Tagawa in Europe but you fall back on your British core away to Livingston or St Johnstone.”

Martindale believes Ann Budge and the Hearts hierarchy are reaping the rewards of sticking by Naismith after a tough start. They are now on course to secure third spot and have a Scottish Cup semi-final with Rangers to look forward to.

He added: “Naisy has done a great job. He had a sticky start until he got his philosophy across but credit to Hearts for sticking with him. They’re a fantastically-run club. Ann has done well and now she’s being helped out by Andrew McKinlay, Joe Savage and Naisy.

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“When you have the alignment of being well run on and off the park it’s ideal. In order to have success you need the synergy between the people upstairs and the management team.

“Hearts fans have put a phenomenal amount of money into their club and [multi-millionaire director] James Anderson has helped out financially as well. It has allowed Steven to flourish. Going into a stable club with genuine potential has given him that foundation.”

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