Jay Emmanuel-Thomas remembers Arsene Wenger having the ability to get inside his players’ minds – but he believes his new boss Davie Martindale’s head-rattling screech could yet deliver silverware to Livingston.
The Livi striker was on Arsenal’s books from the age of eight to 21 and saw first-hand how French master Wenger would get the best out of his squad with his man-to-man manipulation techniques.
Martindale’s methods might not have the same subtlety, with his constant barking from the touchline impossible to ignore in the days of closed-door action.
But Emmanuel-Thomas believes the Lions boss’ demanding nature could yet give Livingston something to really shout about as they prepare for Sunday’s Betfred Cup semi-final with St Mirren.
Asked how he would compare his current manager with Wenger, the 30-year-old said: “A lot more vocal. A lot more hands on. Arsene Wenger was more a mind person and would speak with you personally. Close contact where no-one else could hear what he was saying.
“Whereas Davie, if he spoke now from his office, we’d hear him on the pitch.
“But Arsene Wenger was not the voice at Arsenal, Pat Rice was the voice.
“Each person has their voice. Foxy (Liam Fox, Livi assistant boss) has come in and he seems to be the more hands-on, speak-to person and Davie is the voice, so it’s a good balance which helps the boys.”
Livingston have certainly responded to Martindale’s approach since he stepped up from the number two role to replace Gary Holt.
Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Celtic – secured thanks to Emmanuel-Thomas’ second-half equaliser – made it 10 games unbeaten and there is now soaring belief around the Tony Macaroni Arena that the current team can go on to match Livi’s 2004 League Cup-winning heroes.
“It’d be great for Davie to go on and lift a trophy,” said Emmanuel-Thomas. “He seems to enjoy it here and the boys are performing for him, so I couldn’t see anything changing anytime soon.”
Emmanuel-Thomas is looking forward to his first look at Hampden this weekend – but it will not be the biggest stage he has sampled.
He said: “Sunday is a great occasion. Obviously, before I came here, I didn’t know a lot about the whole cup situation and going to Hampden but I’ve now come to terms with what it means for the club and what a great occasion it would be again to reach the final.
“Everyone is looking forward to it.
“I won an FA Youth Cup final at Arsenal. I played in a play-off semi-final when I went to Cardiff. When I moved to Bristol, we won the league and also the Johnstone Paints Trophy at Wembley.
“Walking up the steps to collect the trophy is great and hopefully after a win on Sunday we can get to the final and have that feeling here.
“I have great confidence in the team right now. I had it when I first signed because I could see from the players we had that there was something there. At the moment, it’s looking very strong and teams are struggling to play against us.
“We’re creating lots of chances. We didn’t create many against Celtic on Wednesday but we still scored twice which shows that there is something there that other teams might not be able to deal with.”
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