Manager looks back on season

On Saturday, the curtain came down on another Scottish Premiership season and Saints’ ninth consecutive top-flight campaign.

The club narrowly missed on the top six for the first time since the 2010/11 season after a year blighted by injuries to many of the squad’s key players.

It’s been a year of highs and lows, with away victories at Motherwell (5-1), Dundee (4-0), and Rangers (3-1) among the highlights, whilst early exits from the Europa League and Scottish Cup were among the lows.

The end of the season also marks a significant change in personal at the club, with three familiar faces having departed the club. Midfielder Chris Millar, goalkeeper Alan Mannus and striker Steven MacLean – all part of the 2014 Scottish Cup-winning side – have moved on with the best wishes of the fans, manager and everybody at the football club.

Looking back on the campaign, Saints boss Tommy Wright shared his thoughts on the season his side just had. “It’s been frustrating at times,” he said, “but I’m a man who likes to look at the positives. I think a lot of people don’t understand exactly what our remit is at the beginning of a league season.

“It’s probably down to how successful we’ve been in the past but a lot of people think that our remit is to make the top six every year. It’s not the case – our remit is to make sure we finish in 10th place first and foremost, to avoid getting dragged into that relegation playoff spot.

“Anything above that is a bonus and of course we wanted to finish in the top six but it didn’t happen this year and looking at the season as a whole I can see why we didn’t.

“We’ve not been consistent enough and players that in the past have made very few mistakes made more this year. It’s cost us in quite a number of games and that’s why we’ve missed out – inconsistency coupled with the worst season of injuries we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

One thing that has pleased Tommy has been the emergence of some of the younger talent in his squad, including the likes of Jason Kerr who – after a successful loan-spell with Queen of the South – has made great strides in the first-team and represented his country at U21 level.

“The age of the squad has changed pretty dramatically, this season more than any other that I’ve been the manager,” Tommy said.

“I think it’s something that both myself and the club have been unfairly labelled with – that we don’t give youth a chance. I’ve always said that if you’re good enough you’ll play and it’s just been that in previous year the quality hasn’t been there in our younger players.

“Now we’ve got that and it’s a testament to Alec Cleland who has done a lot of work with the younger members of the squad. We’ve had Aaron Comrie, Ali McCann, Kyle McClean, Liam Gordon and Jason Kerr all make massive improvements this year and they’ve contributed to the first-team squad.

“Add to that a debut for sixteen-year-old John Robertson and also a player like Callum Hendry who has been unlucky with injuries but will get his chance next season, and it’s all looking really positive.”

The club will have a longer pre-season than they have become accustomed to because there is no European football to look forward to and even though it’s now the off-season, the manager will still be very busy on his holidays.

Having already secured the signing of Drey Wright in July, he’s hoping to add some more new faces this summer but admits he’s not going to rush into anything.

“I think we’ll be looking at trying to add three or four new players but I think the squad is in good shape just now. Of course we want to strengthen but I think it’s something we can afford to take our time with to make sure that we get it absolutely right.

“First and foremost in the coming weeks I want to nail down our pre-season plans in terms of who we play against and where we go, and then my attention will turn to recruitment again.”

Competitive action for next season will get underway with the Betfred Cup on Saturday 14th July, with the opening Scottish Premiership weekend being Saturday 4th August.