New manager Landi brings vibrant vision to Livingston

ROBERTO Landi, the new Livingston manager, has promised to adopt a pure but pragmatic footballing philosophy as he bids to take the West Lothian club back into the SPL.

Since their relocation and rebranding 13 years ago, life has never been dull for the club formerly known as Meadowbank Thistle and they appear to be opening another colourful chapter of their story under Landi.

A former team-mate of Pele and Franz Beckenbauer at New York Cosmos, the 52-year-old Italian's globe trotting career has also seen service in Qatar, Malaysia and Romania. He is now fulfilling a lifelong ambition by working in British football and has grand plans and high ideals for Livingston.

"You won't see my team play the long ball," said Landi. "My teams score goals after making 23 passes. For 95 per cent of the time, they play the ball on the ground. I like to play football but I also like to win.

"If my team are winning 1-0 with 30 minutes to go, then the match is finished. I don't like to lose games 5-4 or 4-3 and hear people saying it was a fantastic game, but the opponents have the three points.

"It's not about being defensive, it's about keeping the ball and moving the ball around. I want to organise my team so they have more than 50 per cent possession in every game, then normally you win."

Simply putting a team of any description together would appear enough of a short-term challenge for Landi who was formally introduced to the media yesterday by his compatriot and new club chairman Angelo Massone whose consortium bought Livingston last month and have now lifted the transfer embargo incurred by previous owner Pearse Flynn.

A number of trialists from various parts of Europe and South America joined Livingston's existing players for the start of pre-season training with Landi's focus on compiling a first team squad of around 20 in time for the Challenge Cup first round tie at home to Stranraer on 26 July.

"I have built new teams in some of my other jobs and, in one way, it is easier because you can get your own mentality into new players," said Landi. "Sometimes it is difficult to change the mentality of a team that is already there.

Landi came close to taking charge of Fulham last season when Lawrie Sanchez was sacked by the English Premier League club.

"I got the offer to speak to Fulham and met Mr Al-Fayed, the owner, in London," he said. "For me, it was a very good opportunity to work in England but he chose Roy Hodgson instead. I also had talks with Port Vale, Gillingham and Rotherham, but when I spoke to the people at Livingston, I felt this was the right job for me. If I am successful with Livingston, then it opens a big window in the UK market for all of us."

Landi has been joined in Scotland by his long-standing backroom team of assistant Walter Berlini, fitness coach Nazzareno Salvatori and goalkeeping coach Massimo Piloni.

"I have refused many big money offers at other clubs because it was not possible to bring my staff with me," he said. "They are all very important in the work I do, although all decisions made are under my control. When we are in a room together, I am like a Fascist."

If that colourful analogy made his chairman wince yesterday, Landi's own confidence and ambition certainly match the aspirations of the new Livingston regime.

"My first ambition is to win the First Division as soon as possible," he said. "I know it will be difficult in the first season, because we will have a new team against some very strong teams with big traditions, but I have promised the chairman we will at least stay in the First Division in the first year and that we will try to win it."