Having taken over Livingston mid to late on in January it was a mad rush to evaluate the squad, look at the positions we needed to strengthen, get those deals done as well as sorting the backroom staffing. In the end, despite many trials and offers in for players we only added two players to the squad. We let ten players leave on a combination of free transfers, mutual termination and one player left for a fee too as Hull Signed summer freebie David Davis for £80k which helped us cut the wage bill a bit. We were in for a few players that are out of contract in the summer such as, Ryan Jack and Jack Hendry but unfortunately we didn't have the funds for either players wage demands. They are on the back burner for a bit but I would love to get both players in ideally. The players we added to the squad were Ben House on a free transfer and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy on loan. With us wanting to play 4-2-2-2 we needed more options up front as we just had Lyndon Dykes and Dominic Samuel. Samuel's loan deal from Motherwell was very poorly negotiated though as we were obligated to sign him for £74.5k should he feature in twenty matches and having already featured in seventeen we had to drop him to the reserves. He isn't good enough to sign so I definitely couldn't accept buying him and unfortunately we were unable to cancel his loan deal either. As per the norm I created a solid structure of back room staff members. The most notable additions were that of Shaun Constable as my assistant, Martin Rennie and Ben Garner as coaches, Terry Boyle as chief scout, Jonathan Gould as goalkeeping coach and Yossi Benayoun as director of football.
My tenure with Livingston got off to a quickfire start like most of my other jobs as I faced my first game on my first day. It was Motherwell who were the opposition and I managed a rare win on it too! We were two up and comfortable before Allan Campbell netted a consolation goal. An important win against a team above us in the league. We rounded off January with a disappointing goal less draw to Dundee and a superb draw with Rangers who we twice took the lead against but the class of Ryan Kent and James Taylor shone through on the day. Rangers were top of the league when we faced them but by the time we were resoundingly beaten by Hearts it was the Edinburgh side who had taken top spot. Our Scottish Cup fixture with Queen of the South was so much closer than I ever expected it to be as the League One side ran us mightily close. Goals from our strikers Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and Lyndon Dykes were enough to see us emerge victors after new record league appearance holder Scott Pitman had given us the lead through a penalty. My former club, Ross County, took us by surprise as they stormed to a 3-0 lead after thirty-nine minutes but our come back started a minute later as Eoghan O'Connell got the ball rolling in our comeback as we ended the game three all. Our positional rivals, Aberdeen, were next on our fixture list and it's clear The Dons weren't up for the match from the get go as we trounced them three nil. That was followed up with another mismatch as we annihilated Falkirk at their own stadium, a clear indication of their rock bottom of the league status. What followed was by far our best result and perhaps my best club result as our strikers Dykes and Ben House fired us to a two one win over league champions Celtic. By their own high standards Celtic were struggling a little this season but they are still only three points from top so to beat a team like that was a proud moment. An expected Scottish Cup exit followed as Rangers showed their superiority as they brushed us aside through Kent and Taylor once again whilst Lawless injury time first half goal proved more of a consolation than inspiration to fight our way back in to the tie. The final game of February was up there with the best games I've ever seen and the best comeback(s) I've ever seen too. Dundee United looked to have secured the win after taking a three goal lead in the first half but as we showed against Ross County, we don't lie down that easily! We fought our way back in to the match superbly and even took the lead through Steven Lawless strike around the hour mark. United broke our hearts when they equalised against us but we returned the favour really late in the game as substitute Jake Hastie netted a ninetieth minute winner. We beat Dundee United five four! A superb result amongst several other this past month or so.
Early signs have suggested that we could have a really good team here potentially. With a strong defence of Eoghan O'Connell, Deji Oshilaja, Brennan Camp and Stephen Hendrie. A fantastic midfield of Scott Robinson, Scott Pitman, George Lapslie, and some decent attackers. Our strikeforce of Lyndon Dykes and Ben House is also powerful whilst Rushian Hepburn-Murphy is a fantastic player to have on loan. Hepburn-Murphy is available on a free at the end of the season so could prove an inspired signing for the next manager. With players like Joe Chalmers, Ryan Jack and Jack Hendry also available at the end of the season this team could be seriously strengthened with such acquisitions should the Livi board decide to splash some cash.
It is indeed, something a little bit different from the norm for me. Rumour has it that spokespeople are full of it!