Hearts and Hibs tipped for top-four breakaway by Livingston manager David Martindale

Livingston manager David Martindale predicted a prosperous season for Hearts and Hibs following his team’s 3-0 defeat at Tynecastle on Saturday.

Livingston manager David Martindale at Tynecastle.
Livingston manager David Martindale at Tynecastle.

He expects the Edinburgh clubs to finish in the Premiership’s top four alongside Rangers and Celtic because they both have taken significant steps forward this term.

Goals from Michael Smith and Alex Cochrane allied to a Liam Boyce penalty saw Hearts overpower Livingston to move second in the league. Martindale is anticipating clear daylight soon between the top four and the rest.

“I think Aberdeen will still be in and around but I think you can see the top four,” he said. “I think you will be looking at Rangers, Celtic, and Hearts and Hibs will be a toss of a coin. That's your top four in my opinion.

“Fifth and sixth – I think Aberdeen will be there and it will be a fight between St Johnstone, Dundee United and maybe even ourselves. But I think it will be a flip of a coin.

“That’s just my opinion but it is a long season and that could change. I think the top four are breaking away. I think there’s a clear divide. I think six or seven teams are playing for tenth upwards.

“It is a tough league this year and I think the bigger teams have got stronger. Some might argue that point and at home we are still more than a match for most but away from home I have found it really difficult this time.

“Hearts and Hibs have kicked on in my opinion and Rangers and Celtic away from home have always been difficult. I think there is a clear divide in the league now. You can see how the league is going.”

Disappointed with what he labelled a “lethargic” Livingston display at Tynecastle, Martindale questioned his own tactics and insisted there will be no days off in West Lothian for now.

“We’re not taking days off. You take days off when you win games of football not when you get beat,” he remarked. “To be honest, if we had won 3-0, got beat 3-0 or drawn we would be in Monday morning ready to go.

“It was a tough game, I’m not going to sit here and tell lies. I think you could see that the last two games [against Celtic and Rangers] have caught up on us. I’m not using that as an excuse but I think it played a big part in how we approached the game.

“We were very passive and quite lethargic and we gave away possession too easily. I feared it could be like that but I didn’t think it would be in the manner it was. That’s why I tried to bring some fresh legs into the team. I changed the shape slight today and in hindsight I think I got that wrong.

“I don’t think it comes down to attitude. I think we were lethargic and we were quite passive out of possession, which isn’t a Livingston performance.”

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