Marvin Bartley talks the future as Livingston’s assistant reveals how a new course set him up to become a full-fledged manager

Marvin Bartley has high hopes for his stint in football management.

A career that saw him start at non-league level in England saw him feature in Hibs’ Scottish Cup-winning side in 2016.

And while he is enjoying his final years as a player at Livingston, he also took on the role of reserves manager before being named assistant to David Martindale last year.

The 35-year-old loves being on the training ground and in the dugout as the Premiership club’s No.2.

But Bartley has never hidden his desire to one day become a leading man himself.

Alongside his coaching badges and following a recommendation from his former Bournemouth manager and current Newcastle boss Eddie Howe, he was part of the first promotion to take a new course at Edinburgh University Napier alongside by Christophe Berra and Steven Whittaker.

In an exclusive conversation with soccer scotlandBartley reflected on how applied management in football qualification developed his skills beyond what he could learn by just being on the pitch.

“It’s helped tremendously because it opens your mind to think about things you wouldn’t normally think about, whether as a player or moving from player to manager,” he said.

“A lot of players think that because they are good players they will be good managers and coaches, and they are ready for any scenario.

“But taking this course makes you realize very quickly that there is so much more to a football club than what happens on the pitch.

“For me it was important to be part of the course because should I go to a meeting with a director of football or a president etc, if you can understand where they are coming from and if your argument is different from theirs , but you can add substance because you can relate to it, that helps a lot.

“So it just prepares you for different scenarios and who knows, you might become a director of football yourself one day.

“The course is also linked to different industries. Yes, obviously it was football-based, but there were a lot of things that we could transfer to other companies.

“If players are even looking to move into another area of ​​work after playing, there are things that can be related.

“Stephen [Robertson]who ran the course, never played football in his life and he never went beyond college, but he is a very successful man in the business world.

“For me personally, I know it will help me when I take that step in management.

Bartley on the sideline

“Will that mean I’m going to succeed? No, nothing does.

“But if you can best prepare for the eventuality of being a manager, that’s all you can do.”

During his studies, Bartley took the example of an English football club which had struggled financially and struggled to attract new supporters to the stadium.

While Berra and Whittaker, along with former St Johnstone star Steven Anderson and Hibs hero David Gray, also used examples from their own careers to enhance their learning.

And now that he’s finished qualifying, Bartley could only recommend him to other Scottish players considering their next steps.

He said: “In everything, knowledge is power, so to give yourself the best opportunity to be a good manager, you have to have that knowledge.

“Having knowledge of a playing career or doing your coaching badges is absolutely perfect.

“But some scenarios I’ve had in my career are ones that money can’t buy, like administration and working with different managers.

Marvin Bartley with Livingston boss David Martindale
Bartley with Livingston boss David Martindale

“I would definitely recommend him to players but also to anyone considering working in the football industry.

“It definitely changed my way of thinking in certain scenarios and it was definitely a plus for me.”

As for when he could finally become a full-fledged manager, Bartley admits he’s once turned down opportunities to do so while waiting for the right job to come along.

“I’ve always been very open and honest about my ambitions to one day become a manager,” he said.

“I kind of had the perfect foundation because I started as a part-time player before turning professional, then worked as a reserve coach and now a first-team assistant manager.

“So the end goal was always to be a manager one day.

“When that moment comes I feel like I’m ready for it and I’ve always been honest with the gaffer.

“As long as I am an assistant manager, I will give 100% and I will be the best assistant manager I can be.

“But if the right opportunity comes along, I think it’s a good opportunity for me – it’s not an opportunity because I’ve turned down opportunities – it’s something I would do.”

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