Falkirk manager Gary Holt has hailed coaching mentor Paul Lambert for putting him on the road to Hampden – but insists he will be his own man in the dugout.
The pair were first united at Wycombe Wanderers, where Lambert was rebuilding his career following an ill-fated stint in charge of Livingston, at a time when Holt was carefully considering his future as his playing days wound down. The former Celtic skipper then took his protege to Colchester and threw him in at the deep end coaching the club’s reserves before Holt followed Lambert to Norwich to become a youth coach.
Holt knows his managerial dream may have “bombed” without Lambert and will always be appreciative for his input. “Paul has been a huge influence in my career,” explained Holt. “I went to Wycombe as a player and he gave me a lot of terrific advice there about where I wanted to go and the coaching route I wanted to take. He told me to go down the coaching route – learn, have experiences and make mistakes.
“Sink or swim is not a great way to do it. I went to Colchester and he offered me a player-coach role straight away to continue my learning process. I had no experience. He said: ‘Right, you are coaching the reserves.’ I told him I had never done anything like that and he said: ‘Tough, you’ll learn.’
“It was a good thing and it was good of him to push me that way and to urge me to have the experiences I’ve had.
“He didn’t want me to finish my career, try to get a management job straight away and then bomb because I don’t know what I was doing. I have had a great three-year apprenticeship, learning the ropes and making mistakes and learning.”
Holt, however, will be attempting to stamp his own style on the Falkirk side after being named as Steven Pressley’s successor.He continued: “You have be your own man – besides, Paul is a lot more angry than I am! You need to have your own style and your own way of dealing with things. And I will be. I will take many good traits from him, I will not deny that, but you have to do things your own way.
“I know if I pick up the phone he will answer and it is great to know someone at the top level is there to help.”
Holt, who begins work on Monday, can become an immediate hero with the Falkirk faithful if he can navigate the First Division outfit to a shock Scottish Cup semi-final win over Hibs at Hampden on Saturday.
It’s an onerous maiden match for the new boss, but one he is keen to embrace.
“That is why I am coming into management,” he said. “I am coming in to experience these days and hopefully it can be a good day.”
However, even winning the Cup in May will not be enough to convince the 40-year-old to get another tattoo to match the one he received after winning the Scottish Cup with Kilmarnock in 1997. He smiled: “I’m a bit old for tattoos and silly things like that now.”