Hearts boss Robbie Neilson knows grass isn't always greener as he heaps praise on opposite number David Martindale
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The Hearts head coach is someone who made the leap himself in 2016 after courting attention from elsewhere following the Scottish Championship title triumph over Hibs and Rangers before finishing third in the top flight the following season.
However, it didn’t work out for Neilson south of the border with his stint at MK Dons lasting little over a year. He’s landed on his feet by once more becoming manager at Tynecastle in 2020 and taking the club into Europe having again been tasked with winning the second tier.
Earlier this year Martindale said he wasn’t interested in potentially becoming the next manager at Hibs because he values his job security in West Lothian. There were also a couple of English clubs linked with the Lions boss in the summer.
Neilson, who takes on Martindale and his side in the cinch Premiership on Saturday, knows the grass isn’t already greener on the other side.
“100 per cent,” responded Neilson when asked if he more than others could appreciate where Martindale was coming from. “I think there have been teams interested but it’s whether Davie wants to go or not. I think there were a couple of teams interested last season but he decided not to make the jump, sometimes you just enjoy where you are, enjoy the football. So, do you want to go to an English lower league team or stay where you are?
“This is a good level of football. In Scottish football you get great games, big crowds, European football, so I can understand Davie's perspective. If you go down south to a lower league team you're grinding it out: Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday. He's in with the mortar over there so unless there's one that really appealed to him I don't see him going.”
The visitors to Tynecastle sit two points above their opponents in the league table after 14 games played. Once again Martindale is working wonders with one of the smallest clubs in the league who are well in the hunt for third place and the kind of riches which Hearts received this campaign for their efforts. And all this is in spite of Livingston losing key attacker Alan Forrest to Hearts in the summer.
“Every year people say they are going to do this or that but Davie always puts together a good team,” said Neilson. “They always lose a couple – that’s just what happens – and we took Forrest and other guys move about but he just recruits again. They bring in quality players, who fit the system well, and I expect this game to be very, very difficult.
“When they play there they are used to working hard. It is about the whole team at Livingston, not individuals. They change it now and again if they are playing against Rangers or Celtic, but generally it’s is a 4-3-3 and they work hard in midfield, are strong at the back and and they cause a threat. Recruitment wise they always bring in exactly what they need.”