John McGlynn: Livingston relishing challenge

Livingston boss John McGlynn. Pic: SNS
Livingston boss John McGlynn. Pic: SNS
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Locking horns against the trio of Rangers and local rivals Hearts and Hibs is not a new proposition by any means for Livingston.

Sandwiched geographically between the league’s newest additions, the Lions came face to face with three of Scotland’s biggest clubs during their five-year stay in the top flight, a tenure that ended more than eight years ago when the club were relegated to the second tier in May 2006.

But the prospect of being reunited with such attractive opposition is not a situation which manager John 
McGlynn could have foreseen, with Livingston still competing outwith the top division.

The West Lothian outfit begin their Championship campaign on August 9 with a trip to the Capital to face Alan Stubbs’ Hibs at Easter Road and McGlynn himself admits that he is still pinching himself.

“This year is going to be an exceptional level with the addition of Rangers, Hearts and Hibs,” McGlynn told the Evening News.

“All the players can’t wait to get going. It’s great to have Rangers, Hearts and Hibs coming to the Energy Assets Arena again so it would be nice to see this place jam-packed. The stadium is built for it.

“Supporters are going to come here and are going to see three teams that you would never have imagined in my lifetime that you would see competing in the second tier of Scottish football.

“But at the same time it’s going to be nice to go and play at Ibrox, Tynecastle and Easter Road. It’s going to give great exposure for the club and the players themselves to show what they can do. We’ve sold a lot more season tickets this year as they’ve been really good value, so there is a real buzz around the place just now.”

McGlynn is not prepared to disclose much in the way of any pre-season targets he has for his squad, but stresses he is eager to see an improvement on last season’s sixth place finish in which the club ended up nine points adrift of fourth spot occupiers Queen of the South, and a crack at promotion to the Premiership.

“I’m not going to set any great targets right now,” he said. “But what I will say is once we get going, we’ll be looking to improve on the sixth position in the table we finished last year and if we can do that then it will be a good season for us.

“It’s up to ourselves, Falkirk, Dumbarton, who had a good season last year, (Raith) Rovers, to throw a right good challenge down to the bigger teams.

“In a ten-team league, you’re never going to be that far way from the top or that far away from the bottom (alluding to Livingston finishing just six points off a relegation play-off spot). Everyone is in that middle ground. It’s a very difficult league to win a lot of consecutive games.”

With eight recent additions to the playing staff, including former Hearts striker Gary Glen and Hibs defender Bradley Donaldson, McGlynn is justifiably content with a blend of both youth and experience at his disposal.

“We’ve got the likes of Simon Mensing to come back from injury, Burton O’Brien and Mark Burchill, who is our assistant manager as well, who are all over 30 so they have got that bit experience.

“It’s a good wee mix we’ve got with the young players so I am really happy with the squad we’ve got.”