LIVINGSTON manager David Martindale tonight claimed that Celtic had romped to their most emphatic domestic win of the 2020/21 season - because their players are desperate to perform well for their caretaker John Kennedy. 

Martindale was furious with how his charges played in their first post-split league fixture and confessed there will need to be a stark improvement when they take on Aberdeen at Pittodrie in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup on Sunday.

However, he hailed the Glasgow side, whose board are still searching for a permanent successor for Neil Lennon nearly seven weeks after the Northern Irishman resigned, for how they had acquitted themselves during the course of the 90 minutes at Parkhead.

Celtic have been linked with big names such as Rafa Benitez, Eddie Howe, Roy Keane and Enzo Maresca since Lennon departed, but Martindale predicted the display could boost the chances of Kennedy, who has been put in interim charge until May, landing the position permanently.

James Forrest and David Turnbull netted before half-time and in the second-half a Jack Fitzwater own goal, a Mohamed Elyounoussi double and a late Ryan Christie strike completed an emphatic win for the home team.

"I am disappointed,” said Martindale. “I was angry after the game and in the changing room and now I'm disappointed. I felt there was an acceptance out there. We accepted that and that is not what I want from my players. We need to work on that.

"On the flip side, and I am not trying to sugar coat it, I thought Celtic were fantastic today. Obviously we allowed Celtic to be fantastic, but I do think they popped the ball really well. There was a hunger and appetite with Celtic with the way they moved the ball, I have not seen for a while

“If I am honest, it looked like a team who were playing for the manager. If John has any chance of the job that will have done him the world of good. I think you can see the players were playing for John and they were enjoying it.

"Obviously we made it that bit easier. I don't think we were anywhere near it after half an hour. We didn't get close enough to Celtic players.”

However, Martindale remains confident that Betfred Cup finalists Livingston, who fell eight points adrift of fourth place Aberdeen, can bounce back from the bitter disappointment and book a place in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals with an away win over Aberdeen next weekend.

"We will get it back in training,” he said. “That won't be a problem. The boys are good boys, it didn't happen today, but we will make sure it doesn't happen next week.

"The use of the ball at times wasn't great, in part of the game it wasn't too bad. I'm probably referring to the first 30 minutes. We go in 2-0 down, I don’t think there is much in the game. But in the second half, they absolutely battered us.

"They were moving us very well and when we managed to get on the ball there were three or four Celtic players there on the press.”