JOHN McGlynn collected the SPFL Championship Manager of the Month for December, praising his youthful players at Livingston and sparing a thought for the crop of young talent being pushed to the limit at his previous club Hearts.
As Hearts struggle at the foot of the Premiership, with a transfer embargo and no choice but to field young players, former manager McGlynn said: “There is no doubt it cannot be healthy. It is not normal for that to happen. Hopefully, there is not a great deal of damage done and the players do learn and pick up from the experiences of having played at this level for an entire season. You just hope they will benefit rather than suffer from it.”
Mental pressure may be damaging, with McGlynn adding: “There is a difference between just going out and playing football with your mates down the park every week and playing in front of 13,000. There are a lot of pressures and demands, even though the Hearts fans have been tremendously supportive.
“There is an expectancy and a pressure that comes on you and the manager hasn’t been able to take the players out and relieve that pressure. It is great to be playing every week but there’s no doubt any manager would have given some of these players a rest if they had the opportunity to do that.”
Asked if young players can handle the pressure, McGlynn said: “It depends how mentally strong you are and some will handle it differently. It will come down to individuals. People could suffer from it if they have had a really bad experience or a particularly bad game. They could close up, tense up. It could affect them. It could have a long-term impact on their career. I am not saying that will definitely happen but it could. I am not qualified to say definitely… you would need a psychiatrist or a social worker to do that. This is a unique situation and nobody knows where it could go. It could either make or break them.”
McGlynn also spoke about Hearts’ assistant manager Billy Brown’s departure, saying: “I’ve known Billy for a long time and I would not have had the chance to come in and do what I have done in football if it was not for him and Jim Jefferies. I have got the greatest respect for Billy, he has been in the game a long time and I am sure he would have wanted to be beside Gary Locke to give him all the help he could. I have no doubt he will be missed. Lockey will naturally be disappointed to have lost his right-hand man.”
Two wins and two draws in December aided Livingston’s push towards a promotion play-off place, but their hopes of being involved at the end of the season hinge on whether three key players remain in West Lothian. Coll Donaldson, Stefan Scougall and Marc McNulty are all being pursued by English sides and McGlynn said: “Losing two would have a drastic effect on the team as no matter who I replace them with it will not be like for like.
“Scougall and McNulty are mentioned in virtually every transfer window and, even though they are on long-term contracts, if we get a good offer they will move on. Donaldson is slightly different but maybe the greatest of the lot in terms of potential. I do think he can play for Scotland one day if he stays clear of injuries.”