December 30th - Saints confirmed a couple of departures today. John Hillcoat, who provided goalkeeping cover has left after a month while Alan Morgan has returned to Killie. The news about Steven
Anderson is that he injured his ankle at the weekend but should be fit for the trip to Ross Co - although whether or not that game goes ahead remains to be seen with the Victoria Park pitch apparently frozen solid.
Saints take on TFOD in a closed doors game today and Euan McLean is set to get a run out between the sticks before a return to the first team. The manager told the Courier, "It’s important we get a game into him before the Ross County match. It’s great to have him back. Euan didn’t do much wrong at the start of the season, when the team hadn’t settled down. I still see him as an important player for us"
And don't expect the signings to stop with Derek McInnes still keen to bring one more face on board - presumably at the left-back position.
December 29th - There was plenty of praise for debutant Paul Hanlon in the post-match interviews. Derek McInnes told the Courier today, "It was as good a debut as you’ll see. He was magnificent, even when he went into the middle. I knew the type of player we were getting. He’s young but he played like a seasoned professional. We tried to get him here in August but Mixu wanted to hold on to him then and you could see why.".
The player himself was happy as well but will have to wait to see if the loan deal is extended beyond the current month. "If it all goes well here, the gaffer wants me to stay, and Hibs are happy for me to stay then I don’t see why that can’t happen. Before I came here I was told somebody would be watching the games to keep an eye on me. I really enjoyed the game. I’d only trained twice with the lads but they have helped me settle in well and I can only learn and improve my game from playing alongside experienced players. It was my first game for a month but I thought I adjusted to the pace quite well. It wasn’t a problem moving to centre back because I’ve played there a lot, in fact every time I’ve played for Scotland it has been at centre back. I really enjoyed the match and it was a great result. When I came here the team were top of the table and unbeaten and I want that to keep going. I want to play my part in helping St Johnstone get promotion. They should be in the SPL and with the quality of players here I’ve no doubt that come the end of the season they’ll be top of the league. "
As for the overall performance, the manager was fairly chuffed. "I thought some of our play was magnificent. That was as well as we’ve played for a few weeks. We should have taken more chances but I’m not too worried about that side of it. But for a last minute goal against Airdrie we would have had four clean sheets in a row. Holmes and Milne were great up front. I toyed with changing it because they weren’t great last week but they’ve proved themselves as a partnership and were terrific. This is the best unbeaten run the club has had in years and the players should take pride from that, because I certainly do."
6.30pm - So much for the nice quiet week. The club sneaked out the announcement today of the signing of a 6ft 2 left-sided defender in Graham Gartland(right). The 25yr old Irishman will sign on January 1st from Drogheda United in a deal until the end of the season and goes into the squad for the weekend. Derek McInnes told the Official site, "Graham is someone I have seen in action on a couple of occasions over in Ireland and I also watched him when he played for the Irish ‘B’ squad against Scotland at Rugby Park last season. He has a reputation as a good, steady professional, he’s athletic and has done very well in the Irish League in recent seasons. You only have to look at the bench for last Saturday’s game against Clyde – we had no defensive cover at all and we have been leaving that open to chance so I am delighted to have signed Graham. He’ll give us more options and additional competition."
December 27th - Saints go into today's clash against our bogey side looking to try and extend the lead at the top of the table. Steven
Anderson is set to start in defence in place of the suspended Stuart McCaffrey. The defender told the Courier that we need to turn the draws into wins despite the unbeaten 13-match run. "It would have been much better to have been unbeaten with 13 wins rather than all these draws. For the last two years drawing games we should have won has killed us—we don’t want to run that risk again. Fortunately other results have been going our way, but that just means we’ve missed opportunities to pull even further clear at the top. It is a really hard league this year—it seems teams are—generally speaking—of a more similar standard, but for me we’ve got that bit more quality than the rest. And if we can ally that to work-rate, then we can win this league, but we need to extend this run on the back of wins rather than draws."
He's expecting a tough match today as well. "Clyde are on a decent wee run and always seem to rise to the occasion against us. After not having a great start they’ve really picked up—but that hasn’t come as a surprise, because they’ve got good players. It’s a tough looking game, but I think Clyde will come to our place and have a go, which will suit us as we’ll have a go straight back."
Peaso managed to train yesterday but both Collin Samuel and Martin Hardie are rated as highly doubtful.
6.30pm - Saints turned in a classy passing performance albeit with a crap winning margin to run out 1-0 winners over Clyde with McSwegan red-carded for the visitors at the death. Steven Milne got our goal in the first half while the downside was seeing Steven Anderson limping off midway through the second. The result though combined with Partick's defeat and the Pars not bothering to switch on their undersoil heating means we're now eight lovely points clear at the top.
December 26th - Derek McInnes delayed his turkey yesterday to set up a loan move. Hibs left-back Paul Hanlon has signed for us on a 1-month deal and goes into the squad for tomorrows visit of Clyde. The 18yr old is highly rated but having signed a 5yr contract with the Easter Rd club don't expect anything permanent. He told the paper, "Hopefully I can get games at St Johnstone and, if everything goes well and the clubs agree, maybe the loan could be extended."
And it's likely he'll play given the doubts over several other players with Collin Samuel, Martin Hardie and Peaso all rated doubtful for the clash. It could mean a return to the starting lineup for Gavin Swankie and he's keen to get back into the manager's thoughts for a regular place in the first team. Speaking to the Courier, he said, "After being sat in the stand for a couple of weeks it was good to be on the bench at Airdrie and then to get a wee 20 minutes. I’d spoken to the gaffer about my situation and he’d told me I needed to bide my time and work away in training with a view to putting the thought in his head that, come the Saturday, I should maybe be playing. I recognise I’m not just going to walk into the first team here and perhaps he wanted to make a point by leaving me in the stand in the hope that would motivate me. But while I accept that in one respect my form had possibly dipped, I don’t feel my confidence is low. As a winger you need to go by players and then ensure your delivery into the box is up to the standard that’s required. But while things aren’t going the way I planned at the moment and I’m maybe not firing on all cylinders, I still feel I’ve a lot to give to St Johnstone."
December 23rd - Andy
Jackson is in the paper today and he says he's looking forward to a better 2009. After a good season last year, his form has dipped this season but in today's Courier he spoke about his return to the first team coming off the bench against Airdrie and proclaimed, "I am definitely looking on the bright side now I am back playing again. My aim was to make an impact on the game at the weekend and, while I didn’t get a goal, I won our penalty so I was happy with that. It was great to be back, even though the result was disappointing. It was nice to be named player of the year last season but it has been frustrating for me this time around. This season got off to a bad start because I was a bit overweight. Then, just as I felt I was getting back to full fitness, I seemed to get another injury setback so it has been difficult. There was bruising on the bone of the ankle and it took about a month to heal properly, but now I feel fit and have been working really hard for a good couple of weeks now. The manager has been saying that I have been looking good in training so that’s encouraging. So I have to be thinking positively from now on. We face Clyde on Saturday, and had we beaten Airdrie we would have been going into that one with a seven-point lead at the top of the table. But we are still five clear and on a good unbeaten run so I am looking ahead with a lot of optimism."
Meanwhile the club have announced a Meet the Manager afternoon tea event for the 29th December at McDiarmid.
December 22nd - It looks like extra training this week for Saints after another disappointing draw at the weekend. Liam
Craig is happy though since he knows hard work is required to get us back to our winning ways. He's quoted in the Courier saying, "We will have to work hard this week, have no Christmas dinner and hopefully win next Saturday. The gaffer says we are capable of pushing on and we all know we are capable of doing that. That is our aim. There is no panic, just a determination to get things right. We are still top and unbeaten in 13 games, so that’s a positive and a good record to have in any league. We are not suddenly a bad team and can be up there at the end of the season if we get back to playing the way we can play. We believe we can win this league and hopefully next week we will get back to winning ways. Before then we will be training hard, but that’s not a problem for me. There is nothing worse than getting days off as a football player—that’s what I think, anyway. I want to train. Some days it is right to rest but when you are drawing too many games you should be in trying to get it right. It is not a fitness thing or that we are not working hard, but we will be looking at a video of the game to see where we went wrong and trying to fix it on the training ground."
Saturday sees us take on Clyde who managed a draw away to the Pars at the weekend and are on a decent run of form. Our record isn't too hot against them and he went on, "We have not done well against Clyde of late. They have beaten us twice in the last three games so we know what to expect from them. Still, these are the games we need to win if we want to claim the league title. We have been lucky that other teams have been doing us favours otherwise we would not be sitting top of the league so we need to help ourselves and that means getting the three points on Saturday."
Derek McInnes was more critical of the performance at Airdrie. He said, "We are unbeaten but it should have been another clean sheet accompanied by three points. I felt we had some really good performances but we fell short in the last third. Also, when you go in front with so little time to go you expect to win the game, so I am hugely disappointed. There is a lot of frustration there. Twice we had the chance to keep possession and gave it away, then one of the smallest players on the pitch gets across (the defence) and gets a goal. So it was definitely two points dropped."
8pm - It looks like the clearout ahead of the transfer window has begun with youngster Stephen Kerr released today.
December 20th - Okay no updates for a couple of days due to Xmas parties (especially the after-effects) but there's not been that much happening. Nick McKoy left the club this week with no new deal being offered. Chances for him were limited given the glut of midfielders but the Temple wishes him the best of luck for the future.
It's the final pre-Xmas game this afternoon against Airdrie who are currently five points adrift at the foot of the table. Del took in their midweek defeat at Clyde andtold the Official Site, "It will be a different game tomorrow from the two recent home games. Airdrie are the home side and will be a more open side than we have experienced against QOS and Morton in Perth. They were very impressive in the first half against Clyde - they like to move the ball around quickly."
Saints have some minor knocks to Kevin Moon, Martin Hardie and Stuart McCaffrey but all should play. The latter will see his last game ahead of his one-match suspension next week and he told the Courier, "Obviously, I’m dis- appointed to be banned because I don’t like missing out on games. But looking back on some of the yellow cards which have led to this, they stemmed from my stopping the opposition from possibly scoring against us. And if I have to take a booking for the team then I will. I remember against both Dundee and Dunfermline preventing people from causing us a real problem at the expense of a card. For a defender cautions are an occupational hazard. In saying that, this is the first time in my career I've picked up a suspension for going over the points threshold. And as far as being sent off is concerned, it’s only happened to me twice, and on one occasion the red card was overturned on appeal—so I'm hardly a serial offender when it comes to getting banned"
6.30pm - Another late goal from Saints courtesy of Liam Craig from the penalty spot today. But it wasn't enough as an even later one was conceded in a 1-1 draw at Airdrie. On the plus side the Pars only drew with Clyde and Partick had a goalless encounter at Dense so we're still five clear but things need to improve.
December 18th - Derek McInnes has decided to tempt fate ahead of the weekend game at Airdrie. With the Lanarkshire side now well adrift at the bottom of the table after their defeat to Clyde on Tuesday, the manager has probably put the kiss of death on things by talking up the Saints defence and the number of clean sheets. Today's Courier quotes him saying, "I don’t think we’ve created as many chances in recent weeks as we were doing previously. But I am really pleased with the way in which we’ve defended. We’ve looked pretty solid and been restricting teams. We’ve certainly improved in that area over the last six weeks or so. There’s nobody better than Kevin in the division at the moment. He’s been aggressive and dominant and McCaffrey alongside him has done well too. I think we’ve also benefited from having a fairly settled back five. At the start of the season we suffered for having to chop and change at the back. More recently we’ve had Kevin, Stuart, Alan, Gary and Liam playing regularly. And we’ve profited from having that continuity."
December 17th - Rude surprise for Saints yesterday with the news that Stuart McCaffrey(right) is out of the post-Xmas home match against Clyde on December 27th. His booking at the weekend has pushed him over the limit and he's picked up a one-match ban.
Meanwhile the club have announced that admission to the game will be a tenner for adults and a fiver for kids. Geoff Brown told the Courier, "The game against Clyde will be a big match for the team and we’re keen to get a good crowd along. It is an expensive time of year, with tickets for the cup tie with Rangers moving in good numbers and we hope this gesture will encourage people to come along on the 27th."
December 15th - Derek Holmes is one of many that reckons the scrappy win over Morton might count for a lot come the end of the season. He spoke to the Courier after the game and said, "We’re showing that we can score from all areas of the pitch, so that’s good to see and as long as we continue to do that we’ll be in there. The whole team are playing for each other, and big Kevin’s a great leader who we all look up to".
Meanwhile the manager was set for a fourth successive draw before that late winner. "I didn’t think the goal was coming—last week when I thought the goal would come it didn’t. I felt we didn’t ask enough questions of Morton today. It was hard work against a side playing 4-5-1 who tried to frustrate us—we didn’t really get any kind of fluency going and never played at any real pace, but for all that we didn’t play anywhere like we can and we still picked up three points. It was a great ball in from Liam, played at a bit of pace, and was attacked brilliantly by Kevin Rutkiewicz. I’m delighted, but to be honest I didn’t see it coming."
December 13th - Chris Millar(right) is up against his old teammates today and the midfielder told the Courier, "I’d played every minute before being subbed against Queen of the South last week. You really have to fight for your place when you see guys like Gavin Swankie and Andy Jackson, the club’s top scorer and player of the year last season, sitting in the stand. They’d be certain starters in any other side in this division. No one else has that strength in depth so it’s a real vote of confidence being in the manager’s starting line-up.". He still has a problem with the lack of goals and went on, "The boys have been absolutely slaughtering me.
“I averaged seven a season at Morton so I know I can do it. But I’m sure the goals will come for me. Once I get one, others will follow. We are on a great run. Getting to the SPL was the reason I came here. I’m ambitious and so are the rest of the guys. We dropped two points against Queens last week. But December and January are big months for us. We want to be in a strong position for the second half of the season. Morton and Saints are the two form teams right now. We both came through sticky patches. That’s happened to most teams. But this is another home game for us and it’s time we got back to winning ways.
Kevin James looks like being the only definite absentee this afternoon for the Morton league game. He missed out last week with a back injury and is still receiving treatment.
6.30pm - It took a late, late header from Kevin Rutkiewicz but a 1-0 win over Morton was enough to keep us five points clear at the top of the table with the Pars and Partick nipping at our heels.
December 12th - Tomorrow sees the visit of Morton to Perth for the first time this season and amongst their number is an ex-Saintee getting plenty of praise. Keeper Kevin
Cuthbert will be lining up against his old teammates and Derek McInnes knows he'll be tough to beat. The manager told the Courier, "Kevin has been playing a big part at Morton this season. But I never doubted he would get first team football after he indicated last January that he wanted to move on come the summer. I hold Alan Main in such high regard that he was going to be my first-choice keeper for this season. But I applaud Kevin for his sense of ambition."
Of course we've had our own problems this season but Euan McLean is getting close to a return. Del went on, "Euan should resume training some time next week. But he requires strengthening and conditioning work on his arm before coming back into contention for the first team."
For tomorow, he's looking for a return to the winning form after the recent run of draws. "We have put together a good run of 11 games without defeat but I feel we have shed four points recently. The draw at Dundee was a good one but we should have beaten Clyde and Queen of the South. With most of the players fit it’s difficult picking a squad of 16 never mind 11 at the moment. Some players are going to be disappointed, but we have been fairly consistent with the selection during this run. We are happy being top of the pile but need to get back to winning ways. We have two more home games in December and want to make that count. Morton are on a decent run and will be dangerous opponents. There’s always more onus on the team at the top and we have to deal with that."
December 9th - Kevin Rutkiewicz says he's not complaining after the last three winless games for Saints given we're still five points clear at the top of the table. The skipper told the Courier, "In the changing room after Saturday’s game it felt like we’d suffered a defeat. But we have to look at the bigger picture, and for me every point is a good point when we’re top.
We are five points clear at the moment, and disappointing as drawing the last three games has been—and I accept we should have got more out of the matches against Clyde and Queen of the South—I’d rather be in that position, albeit having played one fixture more, than be chasing. For the past two years we’ve found ourselves trying to bridge gaps. As it stands we are sitting top of the pile and we just have to ensure we are picking up points every week.
That won’t be easy because teams will maybe come here and sit in, but we’re going to have to overcome that and learn to deal with the pressure which comes with being top of the league—I think it’s easier to chase.
We’ve had to try and close a 14-15 point deficit before, and when you are in that sort of position you can throw caution to the wind.
What we need to do now is find a happy medium between being brave and being stupid.
He also managed his 100th starting appearance for Saints at the weekend and went on, "I hadn’t realised that was the 100 up. It’s good to reach that milestone, but it’ll be even better if I can make it 130 appearances and have a league winners medal round my neck by the end of the season. Clocking up that number of starts proves I was right to come here. I think I started more than 50 games over the course of my last two seasons at Aberdeen, but I moved to St Johnstone in order to play in my preferred position—and that’s paid off. It’s not been straightforward for me with Saints. When I first came in I suffered a dip in form and got taken out of the team—then I got back in then back out again for off the pitch reasons. I was also told by the manager at the time that I was transfer listed, which it turned out I wasn’t, but things changed—Owen Coyle arrived at the club and I’ve not looked back since. I’ve had a great time and hopefully there’s more to come, in the shape of a year or two at Premier League level with St Johnstone. The boys are excited about getting Rangers in the Cup, but they’re a team we want to be playing four times a season—along with the likes of Celtic, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Hearts. "
Saints play the Pars in the Reserve League Cup today - it's a 1.30pm kick-off.
December 8th - Jody Morris(right) was disappointed with the draw at the weekend knowing we had a chance to build on the lead at the top of the table. The Saints midfielder told the Courier, "It’s not nice to have been so in control of a game and created so many chances and come away with only a draw. But I suppose these sort of games will even themselves out over the season. Another time we’ll nick a point we don’t deserve. People might say this result balances out what happened at Dens Park last week when Dundee had the better of the second-half against us although I don’t think they were quite as dominant as we were today. With no-one else playing this was an opportunity to extend our lead at the top to seven points and we were intent on taking advantage, which is why we’re even more down in the dressing room than we might have been. But we’re left with a bittersweet feeling to be honest. Today was pleasing in that we performed well enough and that’s us 11 games unbeaten. The downside was that we didn’t take the three points we should have and after drawing three matches in a row we need to stick a win on the board soon as possible."
December 7th - Well we're still unbeaten but for the third game in a row we failed to take all three points thanks to a goalless draw with Queen of the South. With all the other games called off in the division, it meant our lead extended to five points. Derek McInnes had no complaints and he told the Official Site, "I thought they were magnificent in the second half but sometime the quality of the final ball wasn’t good enough. Queens broke with quality so I am pleased to have kept a clean sheet."
December 6th - Martin Hardie returns to first-team action today after his ban and the midfielder told the Courier, "I can remember that this time last year I wouldn’t have minded getting booked in a game so that I would serve a suspension while I was out with an operation. Thankfully that didn’t happen because it has worked out for me in the long run. It’s meant that when I got suspended this season I’ve only missed the one game, which is a bonus. I’ve had three and four game bans before in my career. We’ve drawn too many games in my time at the club. It has definitely costs us dearly in past seasons. After drawing our last two matches we want to get back to winning. This is the start of a new month and we’ve got three home games from which we want to take a lot of points. In the past few weeks results have gone for us, even when we’ve not been playing, and we’re now in a position where if we keep winning we’ll be able to look down at the teams below us beating each other."
He should start today, but with the midfield looking as strong as ever, Derek McInnes has a tough decision to make. The manager is expecting a tough game despite QoS lack of form recently. "A lot was expected of them this season and I still think they’ll hope to challenge. They’re going through a sticky spell just now but have too may good players for that to continue for too long. The fact that they’re struggling just now won’t make us underestimate them. They’ll be thinking that a win over the team at the top of the league will turn their season around. We’ve got three home games in December and we want to use that to our advantage. "
I'm missing this game so there won't be any updates to the site until tomorrow afternoon - no doubt the Official Site will have a report tonight.
December 5th - Alan Main turns 41 today but the Saints keeper is still keen to see us make the SPL before he turns 42. The OAP of the Saints side told the Courier, "It would be great if I could play in the SPL again. I’d love to think I could get another shot at it. But I wouldn’t expect any favours. It would be down to performance levels. But I certainly wouldn’t be thinking of retiring if we do go on to win the league. The birthday celebrations will be pretty low-key. Turning 40 last year was a bigger and tougher milestone. That was terrible! It’s just a number and, while I don’t train as much as a 25-year-old, I’m still putting in a shift and I don’t suffer from nerves going into games. I know I can’t go on forever but I don’t feel my age. Now we have John Hillcoat in for cover and that’s good of him. I told him he might be 37 but he looks older than me! Younger players want the chance to prove themselves on that stage and a few of the older guys are keen to get back to that level. "
"The incentives are there for us all. We are on a good run but it has to be maintained. The crowds have been really good recently and the players are feeding off it and responding. It’s all really positive and they are coming back in numbers. That’s great, particularly given the economic climate right now. Hopefully they’ll be out in force to back us against Queen of the South. I feel pretty good right now. It wasn’t that way when we lost a few games earlier in the season. But I always believed we’d come good. And it helps when the team is sitting top of the league and we’re going well. I got promotion here in my second season and this is my second season after coming back. There are a lot of similarities. We have another young manager keen to prove himself, a decent side and everyone has different reasons for wanting promotion. My two sons, Nicholas and Josh, are both season ticket holders and they seem even more excited about the prospect of Saints reaching the Premier League than I do! I think that’s a reflection of how the fans are feeling "
There was praise for him from the gaffer as well and Derek McInnes told the paper, "We’re lucky to have him. He’s been a great professional for me. He’s still playing because he sets himself such high standards and projects confidence and assurance.".
Looking ahead to tomorrow, Stuart McCaffrey trained for the first time yesterday and Martin Hardie is back in the squad after his suspension. The manager continued, "I’ve never been of the opinion that you don’t change a winning team. Different games pose different problems. You pick a team that you think is best suited to beat the particular opposition on that day. We chopped and changed a lot at the start of the season when we were trying to get the right formula, but it’s been pretty much the same boys we’ve used over the last wee while. Everybody here has either been signed by me or kept by me so they all know that I think they can give us something."
December 4th - The club have announced details on the Official Site for ticket sales for the game against TFOD. The nice home fans will be housed in the East and West Stands while the unwashed bigots get the North, Ormond and whatever's left of the West Stand (probably the media seats). Hopefully that will prevent any trouble in the East Stand although it also means we're relying on the stewards and Tayside's finest to take action against interlopers. There will be a voucher handed out at next weekend's Morton game which entitles you to buy 2 tickets while sale for season ticket holders starts on the 15th December and for the voucher holders a week later. Prices are £19 for the West Stand and £17 for the East Stand.
December 2nd - Comeback king Kevin James has spoken to the Courier today about his return in the weekend draw at Dense Park. In for the still-injured Stuart McCaffrey (who should be fit for the QoS game this weekend), he said, "I’m definitely glad that the unbeaten run is still intact because my wife Asha had joked before the game that, knowing my luck, as soon as I go into the team it will come to an end. I told her, ‘Thanks for that, darling, that’s all I need!’ Thankfully the run’s still going and we now have a gap of four points at the top of the table. Dens hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for us recently. We lost late goals there twice last season so we have to be happy to pick up a point after being under a lot of pressure in the second half. Come the end of the season it could be an invaluable point for us. We’re not going to get complacent but four points is a nice cushion to have. In past seasons we’ve been in the situation where we’ve come into the dressing room after matches and the first thing you ask is ‘How did they do?’ That can be demoralising. At the moment we don’t need to do that. We only have to worry about ourselves. Teams are chasing us this time."
Meanwhile, Derek McInnes paid tribute to the Saints crowd reported to be around the 2000 mark. "I’ve never seen a bigger support at Dens in my time. To get nearly 2000 was great and we were disappointed not to get all three points for them. It was a point at a difficult venue, though, and if the point against Clyde was a poor one, that was a good point. I didn’t think Dundee were great but they competed better in the second half and passed it a bit better. I could feel their equaliser coming to be honest. I was pleased to get the draw and I think it was a fair result, but when another team is in the ascendancy in the second half you are always happy with a point. It’s not a bad sign when you’re still picking up points when you’re playing poorly.". As for the coming cup match he commented, "It will be a great day and one we’ll all look forward to. Obviously, you always look for a home draw, which we’ve got, but it would preferably be against a team from a lower league. This one means that if we’re to progress to the later rounds this year we’ll have to do it the hard way, but it’s certainly not beyond us. Last year’s semi-final still rankles. We acquitted ourselves well and were so close to taking the club to its first Scottish Cup final. If we play like we’re capable of doing we’ll have a chance in the match"
5.00pm - Well it didn't take long but the cup-tie has already been moved. We'll now be live on BBC1 which means an 8.05pm kick-off on Tuesday January 13th, a move that will no doubt suit everyone that likes weekend games.
December 1st - Liam
Craig(right) reckons we were lucky to take a point at the weekend. In a dangerously close to being charitable to the poorer end of Tayside spiel in the Courier (a paper well known for its objectivity when it comes to sides from outwith the Hulltoon Plague Zone, he said, "We were the better side in the first half but have been lucky in the end to come away with a point.
A draw here is a good result and the fact we’re now four points clear at the top of the league, going into two home games, is another positive.
But whereas we were unlucky to draw at Clyde, today we were a bit fortunate.
Derek McInnes was more intent in talking about how we're still top of the table and he commented, "That was a below par performance from us yet we have come away from a difficult place with a point, so we’ll take that"
Meanwhile it'll be all eyes on Hampden this afternoon with the draw for the 4th round of the Scottish Cup. Must be our turn to get the OF in an early round.
7.30pm - Well its not as though we couldn't predict it and the Homecoming cup draw today ensured the hot and cold balls were kept well apart as Saints were drawn at home to The Forces of Darkness. The game will be a chance for us to get some revenge for the penalty defeat at Hampden last season as well as an opportunity for Del and the boys to measure up just how good we are against SPL opposition. The match is scheduled for Saturday January 10th but of course the TV companies might have other ideas although with an Edinburgh derby also coming out of the hat for once the OF might have to play second fiddle.
Elsewhere and the news about signing target Tuono Kononen is in the Sun. The six-times capped Finnish 30yr old has been linked with a move to Saints in the transfer window. He's currently plying his trade with Oder Grenland in Norway and was born in Sweden (weird folk these Scandanavians).
And finally, Meadowbank punted manager Roberto "Champions League" Landi tonight.
Top Of News
November 29th - Derek Holmes(right) is doing the pre-match spiel in the Courier today and he's looking forward to this afternoon's big derby. "When I was at Carlisle United we had a similar season to the one we are currently experiencing at St Johnstone. Our results were up and down at the start, we were trying to find our feet in the division and fell behind a few teams. Then we went on a run of something like 14 games undefeated and were right up there challenging. We had been going into games, not exactly expecting to get beat but expecting something to go wrong. But as the run went on and on our confidence became sky-high and we were working so hard for each other and expecting to win every game. Thankfully, the story has a happy ending as we got promoted four weeks before the end of the season, then were crowned champions with a fortnight to go. I am not claiming that's going to happen this season because we are not looking that far ahead. What I am saying, though, is that the longer the run goes on the more your confidence grows. Teams are beating each other, that's true. But what happens elsewhere doesn’t matter as long as we do our job. Being at the top means you don’t have to depend on others. It is up to the rest to catch us."
No new injury worries for Saints today although the suspension of Martin Hardie means that there will be at least one change as the manager shuffles the midfield.
7.30pm - We had to settle for a share of the points in a 1-1 draw with Dundee thanks to a Steven Milne opener but it's enough to keep us four clear at the top. And there was a surprise comeback for Kevin James in defence for the ninety minutes.
November 28th - Derek McInnes(right) celebrated his first year in charge yesterday and has spoken
today of his desire to get us up to the SPL. Despite a good year in
charge, he reckons the job is still unfinished and told the Courier,
"My remit as both a player working under Owen Coyle and as a
manager in my own right has been to get the club back to the
Premier League. I still feel part of a team trying to achieve what is
the ultimate goal for us, although obviously there is more
responsibility on my shoulders now. There are signs of progress
and we are a youngish team with a lot of players who believe their
best years are still ahead of them. We will only be judged on
where we go from here, though, and the challenge is to get to the
SPL. I have had good support from all the staff, the players, the
chairman Geoff Brown and the other directors as we are all
working towards the same thing. I guess one thing that drives me
on is that there were people who thought I would fail, that I was
too young and wasn't experienced enough. So I am out to prove
some people wrong and I am desperate to show that the
chairman was right to appoint me. Also, I want to do what is right
by my players because I don't want them to be playing their
football in the first division for any longer than they have to."
The poor start to the season was a low point for him and he continued, "There have been tests for me and the players. We had the bad spell we went through earlier this season and the major big disappointment of losing the semi-final. The lads got a lot of praise for how they acquitted themselves at Hampden and we were so close to making history. We could have been the St Johnstone team that was remembered forever. I genuinely believe that had we beaten Rangers on penalties then we would have had a serious chance of bringing the trophy back to Perth. " As for the league form he said, "I was conscious, when I got the job, that we were playing catch-up and we gave ourselves too much to do in the end. It was disappointing not to mount a serious challenge and, although the cup kept things bubbling along, there is nothing worse than just seeing out a league campaign and that's what we did. The promoted teams of recent years - St Mirren, Gretna and Hamilton?all got out in front early so I banged on all through the close season that we had to make a good start. Of course, we didn't do so but we have sorted it out and are on a run of nine games unbeaten. So I think we have showed that we can be, like Hamilton, a team that can achieve a level of consistency. We are just over a third into the season and have a lot of work still ahead of us but the signs are there that the players believe they can maintain solid form while leading the league."
He's adapted to managerial life as well. "I love preparing the players and being about the club. I like the good atmosphere I feel we have here. However, you never get everything done that you want done. There are always one or two people you should have phoned back but haven't managed to do so. I try to treat everyone - be they journalists, agents or other managers - with respect even it does become time-consuming. I have three boys aged under nine so I have to try to strike a balance between the job and my family and there are times when I am at home in body but my mind is elsewhere. But I wouldn't even describe those things as down sides. I love all aspects of the jobs and I am determined to be a success."
Tomorrow is the derby at Dens but and he knows there will be a tough ninety minutes ahead. "Dundee have picked up a couple of decent results in recent weeks under Jocky. They are probably in a similar situation to us last season in that they are needing to catch a few teams in front of them. I would say, though, that there will be six or seven clubs in this division who still have aspirations of promotion and Dundee will be one of them."
No new injury worries for Saints and we've apparently signed John Hillcoat as cover in the goalkeeping department on a short-term deal. The 38-yr old (why does the word "veteran" spring to mind) has signed as an amateur until the end of the year.
November 26th -
Not so good news for the reserves last night with a 1-0 defeat at Cowdenbeath thanks to a late goal. The good news was that Andy
Jackson managed a game as part of his comeback.
Elsewhere the league results again went our way with a win for Ross Co over Partick ensuring we have a 3 point gap over our rivals ahead of the big game this weekend.
November 25th - Well it's been a quiet week but the hype is now starting ahead of the big match at the weekend. Gavin
Swankie(right) has played on both sides, but he knows he's with the better club now. He told the Courier, "To be sitting at the top of the league is great compared to just a few months ago.
I think at one point earlier in the season we were six points off Dundee but now we are eight above them with an opportunity to make it 11 with a victory at Dens on Saturday. We had a bad spell in August and I had just arrived from Dundee, who had gotten off to a flier. It was the total opposite here.
However, the manager and Tony Docherty kept saying to me to stay positive and telling me, ‘You have not made the wrong decision.’
I guess we have been vindicated. I think we know we have a team capable of winning the league and everything is looking good for me here."
"It will be good to go back to Dundee and it is a massive game that gives us a real chance to open up a gap at the top. It is an opportunity for Dundee, too, because they will be looking to continue their good run under Jocky Scott. I would not write them off because Jocky seems to have injected confidence into them but we have been going really well ourselves and are confident going into any game. No doubt I will get stick at Dens, but I don’t pay much attention to the crowd "
Derek McInnes celebrates his first anniversary in charge on Thursday and hopes to have Stuart McCaffrey and Derek Holmes back in training while Kevin Rutkiewicz managed a session yesterday. Tonight's reserve game is also being targeted for a comeback for Andy Jackson.
More worries on the goalkeeping front though. On-Loan Greg Kelly looks set to be recalled by Montrose due to an injury to their goalie. With Euan McLean still recovering from his finger injury it means Derek McInnes has his work cut out to find cover for the weekend. Not that Alan Main will be injured of course.....
November 18th -
Kevin Rutkiewicz says that the players have to be focused if they want to stay at the top of the table. Speaking in the Courier he said, "We’re three points clear going into this wee break and that’s a good position to be in, especially when you think back a couple of months to a time when we were second bottom with four points out of a possible 15.
We’ve tended to be maybe seven points behind somebody at this stage of the season and playing catch-up.
But that’s us unbeaten in nine games and if we keep on picking up points we’ll stay top because the nature of the first division is such the teams who are chasing will trip each other up.
However the disappointment at not beating Clyde at the weekend is huge and we need to take note of what happened there. That game serves as a reminder that nothing comes easy in this league and that football does have a habit of kicking you in the backside when you least expect it.
Drawing with Clyde has certainly given me a wake- up call.
It’s made me realise that being top of the table may be tougher—because everybody wants your scalp—than being one of the chasing teams.
Leading the league carries with it a different kind of pressure to that we’ve been used to and we’ll need to learn to handle that."
"What we have to do is what Hamilton and St Mirren did in recent years, when, having gone top, they ground out results. And that’ll take pretty much everybody near enough being on top of their game every week. For most of the run we’ve been on, seven or eight of the guys have been really good. But on Saturday maybe only four or five played the way they can and we aren’t good enough to carry people. Maybe the older, more experienced lads like myself and Martin Hardie need to ensure the younger ones remain grounded and that we are each getting out of one another the qualities which have got us into the position we’re in—because I think that if we stay humble and respect every team we face then we’ll be okay "
November 17th - Liam
Craig held up his hand to take the flak for Clyde's equaliser at the weekend. The left-back's slip allowed Clarke in for their 2nd near the end and he told the Sun, "We should have killed the game off when we went 2-1 up, but even then we seemed to have the game won.
McLaren’s cross seemed to bobble in front of me, but that’s no excuse and I know I should have dealt with it.
The boys are devastated and it will feel like a defeat for the fans, who were excellent." Meanwhile his boss wasn't in too bad a mood and Derek McInnes told the paper, "It’s points dropped as opposed to one gained and I really didn’t see it coming.
While Clyde have done well against us recently, I don’t buy into the idea of them being a bogey team as you’re talking about different sets of players.
6pm - More from Derek McInnes on the Official Site tonight about his reaction to the game. "There’s a lesson to be learned from Saturday We dominated the second half but couldn’t get a third goal and I have to say I didn’t see their goal coming. We knew they would soak up pressure and hit us on the break but we had coped comfortably for most of the afternoon. It was real bad luck because Liam Craig was in position to intercept the low cross but I’ve watched the video and the ball bobbles up just before he gets a touch to it and it bounces right over his foot and lets Clarke in for the goal. That said, the ball shouldn’t have got that far in the first place". He also revealed that Derek Holmes was taken off with a twisted ankle but should be fine for the Dens Park derby in a fortnight. Martin Hardie looks set to miss out after his booking on Saturday.
November 15th - Steven
Anderson(right) looks set to return today in place of the injured Stuart McCaffrey and the Saints defender is out to ensure we don't have more heartache this season. Looking back to the last-minute loss of the title to Gr£tna, he told the Courier, "Losing the league to Gretna on the last day of the season in the manner it happened was a nightmare.
It was one of the worst days of my life and I want to make up for that this season.
It would mean everything to get the chance to play in the SPL.
That’s what I came here for five years ago.
A win today would see us go unbeaten against every team in the league and he's also keen to get rid of the memory of the McD defeat to Clyde earlier in the season. Losing at home to Clyde was our lowest point of the season. But since then the team has gelled and hard work has got us to the top of the table. We’ve gone undefeated for eight games. There have been some great cup results in my time at the club, like beating Rangers, but this is the best run of consistent form we’ve had. I think we’re really hard to break down at the moment and that gives us a chance to win games with the ability we have in other areas. We want to keep that run going at Clyde, and the manager and Tony Docherty won’t let us take the foot off the pedal. I’m desperate to play at centre-back. Hopefully I’ll be selected and, if I am, I’ll be doing my best to stay there. It’s a squad game because injuries and suspensions happen. When you get in you need to play well to stay there. I’ve been building up my fitness in reserve games but they’re not as high tempo as first team games. “I was on for more than 45 minutes against Ross County so hopefully that will help me get up to speed. "
Del is expecting a tough game despite the gap in league positions. "Clyde may have slipped down the league but they’ll be desperate to get going again. We lost to them last time but, just as we did against Partick Thistle and Dunfermline, we want to make amends for that result and go into the free weekend on the back of another win. Last time we cut our own throats for all three goals we conceded. In the last few games we’ve restricted the chances against us by a lot. That’s been the basis of our run and we want that to continue. It’s my job to make sure we stay focused but, knowing the boys, I don’t see that being a problem. They know that it doesn’t matter that we’re top of the league just now. It only matters at the end of the season. "
As well as Stuart McCaffrey, the paper also says Andy Jackson is still set to miss out, presumably due to a lack of match practice.
7.30pm - In the end the Saints fans were disappointed with a 2-2 draw at Clyde. We lost an early goal before Liam Craig levelled from the penalty spot and skipper Kevin Rutkiewicz gave us a second-half lead. But with six minutes remaining the home side managed to equalise. Added to that there was the sight of a Saints player limping off in the first half for the third game in a row as Derek Holmes was clobbered on the touchline and had to limp off. The good news is that scores elsewhere mean we're still top with the Pars winning at Livi and Scumdee beating QoS setting up a nice encounter at Dens in a fortnight.
November 14th -
One player hoping to make a return to the starting eleven tomorrow is Jody
Morris. After an appearance off the bench last week, he knows how well the boys have been performing recently but still reckons there's more to come. He spoke to the Courier saying, "The passing side of our game can still get better but we’re creating five or six chances a game and looking tight at the back.
One of the good things about this run that we’re on is that I still feel there’s more to come, and the lads know that.
Even if the run was to end, be it in our next game or in 10 games’ time, we would be confident we could go one another one.
We’ve raised our work-rate in games and we’re putting teams on the back foot.
We’re looking so solid now. You can see the confidence growing and we’ve gone from strength to strength.
In pre-season and the early part of the season we were gifting goals, but once we sorted that out we’ve improved all over the pitch.
As for his own injury worries, he feels back to full fitness. "I’d had a good pre-season and felt the fittest I’d been in a long time. I was so looking forward to the start of the season. The main problem with the injury I got was that we didn’t know why I was breaking down. Touch wood, that’s me over it now though. Obviously, the team was going through a bad spell at the start of the season. That made it harder because I was wishing I could be out there helping. I’m the type of person who gets right into a game when I’m watching it because I’m desperate to see my mates win—I’m the same watching Chelsea on the television—and I’ve had to keep my mouth shut a few times at away grounds! The team have been doing really well recently though and it’s been good for the team and me that the manager wasn’t in a panic trying to get me back quicker than maybe I should have. Now I just want to play. My family have settled in well in Scotland, my daughter’s loving school and I’m working with a great bunch of lads. There’s only been one thing missing. People down south would be asking me how it’s going up here and I’d say, ‘Great, but I just haven’t kicked a ball yet!’ So I’m raring to go. It was great to come off the bench last weekend against Ross County and now I feel ready to start a match, and hopefully I can kick on from there. "
5.30pm - Not much in the way of team news for tomorrow's game. Andy Jackson is back in full training following his ankle injury and Euan McLean is starting his recovery. But otherwise the squad is unchanged for tomorrow's trip to Broadwood.
November 13th - It looks like Del will have one enforced change on Saturday. Stuart McCaffrey's injury from the Ross County game has been diagnosed as a calf tear and will see him out of action for the next couple of weeks, although the way the fixtures are falling he's only likely to miss this weekend's trip to the depressing slums of Cumbernauld. It does mean that Steven Anderson and / or Kevin James will be in the squad with one of them likely to make the starting eleven.
November 11th - It doesn't look like a loan deal for TFOD's Steven Smith isn't going to happen. Meanwhile Stuart McCaffrey is waiting for a scan on his achilles. Derek McInnes told the Courier, "The strain is between his achilles and calf and we’re waiting to hear how bad it is.
He felt it at the start of the game and it gradually got tighter and tighter. We’re hoping he’ll be back for Saturday against Clyde but we’ll have a better idea by the middle of the week.
There was also a boost with the return of Jody Morris(right) and the manager went on, "Jody got a great reception from the fans when he came on and I know he’s buzzing from being back involved. After watching him in training I could see it was the right time to bring him into the squad. He had gone up a notch last week. I’m also aware that I don’t want to put too much on him too soon. The form of the players in the team has meant that I haven’t had to do that. With Jody and Kevin James becoming available again it’s like the January transfer window opening for us in November. ". It did mean that Kevin Moon missed out but Del was philosophical. "Mooner would have been disappointed because he was great for us at Dunfermline, which was a game it was always my intention to play him in. We’ve had a lot of players who have been unlucky to miss out in recent weeks, such as Alan Morgan, Nick McKoy, Peter MacDonald, Andy Jackson, Jody and Gavin Swankie. They’ve all been left out at times. As harsh as it was on Mooner, I felt I picked the right bench. ". Most of these players took part in the Reserve League Cup match against Arbroath last night - it didn't help as they lost the match 2-0.
November 10th - Derek McInnes praised the players for the win at the weekend but knows its a squad game for the league campaign. The Saints manager told the Courier, "The squad is playing its part and I’d like to stress that.
Before the game we only had Andy
Jackson unavailable and that’s the best the injury situation has been since I’ve been at the club.
When Stuart McCaffrey got injured I was able to bring on Steven
I also had Collin Samuel, Jody
Morris and Peter MacDonald on the bench, who would get straight into a lot of teams in this league.
There’s a long way to go though, and nobody will be getting carried away.
We’ve worked hard to get to the top of the table and the challenge is there for us now to stay there.
There are a lot of good teams in this league and we could find ourselves slipping back down. It’s a cliche but it’s true, we have to just take it game by game."
As for the weekend win he continued, "Last week against Dunfermline was a great win for us, but we were always every bit as concerned about this game. I thought we started well and should have scored early on. It was great to get the goal just before half-time. I don’t think it was a polished performance by any means, but we worked hard for an important win. "
Meanwhile it looks like another short-term loan deal will be coming in with weekend reports suggesting TFOD left-back Steven Smith will be coming to Saints for a couple of months. Where that leaves current loan left-back Alan Morgan remains to be seen.
November 9th - Saints made it an awards double this weekend with Derek McInnes picking up the Manager of the Month award for October while Steven Milne picked up the Player of the Month award. As for yesterday's game, Martin Hardie was disappointed with only one goal. The midfielder told the Sunday Mail, "It was a good time to score just before half-time and the boys were pleased. I felt I should've netted earlier with a header that went just wide. And I nearly scored in the first couple of minutes when the keeper finger-tipped the ball through my legs. I could have had a hat-trick - but we worked hard for the win. "
November 8th - Stuart McCaffrey is looking for the Saints fans to provide a similar backing to last week for today's game against County. The defender told the Courier, "A support like we had last week is priceless.
The backing we received made it feel like a “real” game—one that was brilliant to play in.
The fans really spurred us on.
And if they can now do that at home, starting against Ross County —it’ll not only inspire us, it’ll make McDiarmid Park an intimidating place to come to which will really help our bid to win promotion." He knows the defence has been a keypart of the improvement in results in recent weeks and went on, "When goals are being conceded you find the defence being frowned upon.
But how effectively a team defends isn’t just down to the guys at the back.
You need the midfield working hard and the strikers defending from the front. You can’t have just four people defending.
That’s why the improvement in our goals against record is down to a collective effort not just the defenders.
The midfield has, over the past few weeks, given us fantastic protection and the forwards have made it really difficult for the opposition midfield to get on the ball.
Andy Jackson is set to miss out again today with his ankle injury but other than that Derek McInnes has a full squad to pick from with Greg Kelly set to take over the sub keeper role.
8.30pm - Another Saturday and another win for Del's Destroyers with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Ross County. Both goals came from headers with Martin Hardie and substitute Collin Samuel(right) doing the business at the end of each half.
There was even better news from the results elsewhere in the First Division going our way big style. Both the Pars and QoS lost at home to Scumdee and Morton respectively while Livi could only manage a goalless draw at Airdrie. All of which leaves us four points clear at the top and Saints fans smiling. Which is nice.
November 7th - Derek McInnes is looking to make it 7 wins out of eight tomorrow but he had a word of caution in the Courier. Looking forward to the Ross County game, the Saints manager said, "It sounds easy saying —we just need to keep it going. But a lot of hard work has gone into the run we’ve put together. And that’ll need to continue if we are to get a result against Ross County. They’ve invested heavily this year and gathered together an experienced squad. We’ll need to play well and perhaps have to show patience as well as the passion and aggression which has characterised our performances in recent week, to win the game "
November 6th- A couple of moves took place today. Stephen Doris has headed off on loan to Arbroath for a month. But coming in to replace Lee Robinson is ex-trialist keeper Greg Kelly who has joined on a three-month loan deal from Montrose while Euan McLean continues his recovery. He played in a closed-doors game at Cappielow earlier in the week which we won 4-2. Derek McInnes told the Official site, "Greg is well known to me and the lads as he has been training with us regularly since pre-season. He is well liked by the boys and highly regarded by Alan Main and we will take him on loan for three months to give us a bit of stability – that way I don’t have to put pressure on Euan to rush his recovery from his broken finger."
November 3rd - Martin Hardie(right) was full of praise for the backing of the Saints support at the weekend. The scorer of the first goal at East End Park on Saturday spoke to the Courier saying, "We’ve won this game with an absolutely brilliant team performance and a fantastic backing from the fans.
Running out to that support and hearing them throughout the game was a huge help.
Fans don’t always realise what a lift they give players when they get right behind them.
We were coming in from our warm-up saying how the atmosphere they were creating was like that you’d get at a Premier League ground.
If we could get that sort of support at most of our away matches it would help us tenfold to achieve what we all want to. No-one here is going to get carried away just because we’ve gone top, but there’s a real desire amongst the players to succeed.
Even the training is fast and furious, to the extent the gaffer has had to calm things down and stop the tackles flying in.
But we’re biting and fighting for each other to get out of this league because that’s what you need to do.
We’ve got just as good a squad as any team in the bottom six of the SPL. The hard thing is getting up there.
But if we keep turning in the kind of performance we have been over the past couple of weeks then we should win more often than not.
Meanwhile Kevin Moon should be back in training in a few days. Derek McInnes told the paper, "Kevin is absolutely fine. He is still getting a bit of pain in his stomach from the impact but I’d imagine he’ll be ready to train later in the week. It was a strange one because Kevin himself thought he was OK immediately (after) he was caught. But then he started struggling to breathe which, along with the fact bruising began appearing, caused the paramedics some concern. When we got into the dressing room at half-time he was still a bit unresponsive. But once they got him to hospital and took the neck brace that he’d been fitted with off, things started to settle down. And now he’s just annoyed that’s twice now he’s been stretchered off at East End Park. "
November 2nd - Good news first for Kevin Moon who was released from hospital last night after treatment following the challenge from Stephen Glass yesterday which left him with studmarks on his ribs.
Elsewhere and while the Pars moan about the build-up to our winner having gone out of play, Liam Craig is hailing his goal yesterday as his best ever. The midfielder told the Sunday Mail, "I have never hit a goal like that and I don't think I will again. The ball sat up perfectly for me and it was a great strike. But the most important thing is the three points. The boys have been giving me stick - they all moan at me in training for taking shots at close quarters. "
November 1st - Paul Sheerin(right) is looking to try and turn the tables on the Pars after they crushed us in the first encounter of the season. Speaking in today's Courier, the Wizard of the wing said, "There is a desire to make amends for that result, just as there was to beat Partick Thistle last weekend having also lost heavily to them.
Those matches against Dunfermline and Thistle were probably the low points of the season, but we are a different proposition now than we were then.
We have battled our way back by working harder for each other and playing some decent football.
So it will be interesting, and we will see how things work out second time around.
Having seen all the other teams in the division now, I have to say Dunfermline are the best I have come up against.
I think Queen of the South will be alongside the two of us in the promotion race, but Dunfermline are the side that’s really impressed me.
They were excellent on the day and pretty much played us off the park, so you had to give them credit for that.
It would be nice to go to their place and do the same to them so that their guys will maybe be saying good things about us
As for the penalty kicks, despite missing one last weekend he's not too bothered. "Last season I missed two in a row at one stage, but everyone was still happy for me to take them and I still feel confident about it. I have been in pressure situations before and scored, most notably the shoot-out against Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden last season. So if the manager wants me to take them then I will "
In terms of injuries, both Andy Jackson and Euan McLean are still missing while there is a doubt over Kevin Rutkiewicz and Steven Anderson who have both now managed to pick up training knocks. Derek McInnes said, "I’m hopeful those two will make it. On the plus side, long-term injured Kevin James and Jody Morris will be in the squad. It will be a very difficult game and will be a real test for us. Dunfermline have their own aspirations, and with the calibre of player they possess their fans will expect to see them up there challenging. When they beat us at Perth earlier in the season they were very worthy winners. We were poor on the day, but we are going there in positive mood after taking 16 points from 18 and I think you’ll see a different St Johnstone "
6.30pm - One of the best performances of the season saw a battling Saints side run out 2-1 winners over the Pars thanks to goals from new dead-ball king Martin Hardie and a storming long-range drive from Liam Craig. Even better was that the performance was in front of 1600+ Saints fans who made the trip through to back the team in the Fife hellhole. That result and a defeat for QoS at Firhill means we've gone two points clear at the top of the table. - which is nice. What wasn't so nice today was the sight of Kevin Moon being stretchered off with what looked like an abdominal injury after a tackle by Glass in the first half.
Top Of News
October 31st - Not too much happened in Sainteeland over the last few days. The Reserve cup game was postponed as the players were halfway up the A9 due to snow at Ross County which meant no match for Kevin James and Jody Morris.
Tomorrow sees Saints take on Dunfermline and Savo is looking to continue his goalscoring run. He told the Courier, "I feel better now than at any time since I left Dundee for Plymouth Argyle in 2004. There is a good combination of things just now, with the team winning games and the goals going in for me. I have had a few similar scoring runs but this is the best for a while and having come back from injury makes it all the sweeter. I don’t think I realised how much the injuries had taken out of me but I feel a lot better now. We are on a good run of form, having taken 16 points from a possible 18, so there is a lot of confidence running through the team. It’s totally different from when Dunfermline gave us a going over (3-0) at Perth earlier this season and hopefully it will be an entirely different result on Saturday as well. So, yes, I think it is fair to say that I was at Dundee the last time I felt this good about everything. "
Saints have one doubt for tomorrow with Kevin Rutkiewicz suffering from a mystery illness but Derek McInnes is looking for us to keep the run going. "I am looking forward to this match for many reasons but the main one is the chance to keep our run going. If we can win it would be a fantastic result for us. Having watched Dunfermline play Dundee United in midweek I know they are a strong side full of experienced players but I think we can go there and give them problems. We will be looking to win the game because of the form we are in and the players we have and it would also be nice to make up for the defeat at our place earlier in the season. "
October 25th - Alan Main reckons that we've turned things round since the last match against the Luvvies. Speaking to the Courier, he said, "We were going through a bad spell at the time and obviously getting beaten 4-0 was a hard one to take.
Since then things have changed and we’ve got our rewards for the hard work put in. That’s the way we’ll be approaching today’s game.
We can’t afford to go back to those days and hopefully they have gone. If you’re not putting in a good performance it has to at least be a hard working one.
I know from experience that all teams go through a bad patch at some point and hopefully we’ve had ours.
If you go on a run—which we have—you benefit from the other teams cutting each other’s throats, so if we can keep this going we can really make it count.
Things are looking good just now, with important players coming back from injury and we have to keep pushing on.
We’re in a position now that we would have been happy with, particularly taking into account the way we started the season.
There’s the possibility we could go top if we win but we only think about other results after the match. We’ll be totally focused on Partick Thistle. It’s a great opportunity for us.
At the start of the season we’d have hoped to be top of the league already but we’re not far away.
There's no more team news other than Gavin Swankie is apparently available after recovering from illness.
6.30pm - Another excellent performance in rotten conditions saw us run out deserved 3-0 winners over Partick with goals from Stuart McCaffrey, a penalty from Liam Craig and that man Savo with even time for Paul Sheerin to miss a spot-kick of his own. Defeat for Meadowbank and postponement of the Pars game means we move up to second spot tonight. Who knows maybe Derek McInnes might get the October Manager of the Month Award.
Finally don't look for any updates before next Friday - I'm out of the country until then..
October 24th - Derek McInnes is expecting a different performance against Partick tomorrow than the embarrassing shambles at Firhill in the last encounter. In the Courier, he said, "Out of all the games in the early part of the season the Thistle one was the poorest. It was a real disappointment for everybody and was as low as I’ve felt since I took the job.
If I was a player and I had been part of a performance like that I’d have felt the same. It was a difficult Saturday night.
Thistle scored three unbelievable goals but there’s no getting away from the fact that we were inept and lacking in all departments.
We’re not going to dwell on it but I think it’s healthy to remember it and to use it as motivation.
The players deserve a lot of credit for dragging themselves back since then and they’ve worked really hard and turned things round.
Of course the main candidate for criticism that day was Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) although his later spell in hospital after collapsing at half-time perhaps went some way to explaining his lack of form. The Saints skipper told he paper, "I don’t remember much about that game but it’s all been put to bed, the same as the win over Livingston last week. After a poor start we are on a great run and we are determined to keep it going. We’re right back in the mix and we’re just a point off the pace. There are plenty of positives. But we have to be on our mettle for every game. We all know how tight it is in this league. Thistle will be tough. It’s not about revenge, although it would be nice to get a result back. It’s about getting results rather than being spectacular in this league but I still believe there’s more to come from us. We’ve been winning without being brilliant. But we are definitely hard to beat now. That has to continue but we have quality players here and confidence is on the up and up. There’s a buzz about the place. "
The manager will wait until after training today to decide whether or not comeback kings Kevin James and Jody Morris go into the squad tomorrow but neither has shown any reaction after Tuesday's bounce game. Otherwise, only Gavin Swankie and Collin Samuel have been definitely ruled out, but both should be back in training next week.
October 23rd - Saints are up in front of the beaks today as the tribunal is expected to decide the fee we pay Falkirk for Liam
Craig. The SPL side want a six-figure sum but understandably Saints aren't going to offer anything like that. Elsewhere and Kevin James and Jody Morris have come through Tuesday's bounce game unscathed and are in contention for Saturday's home match against the Maryhill Luvvies.
Latest injury news for the weekend has Kevin Moon on the sidelines and rated doubtful. Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "Kevin has not trained all week as he is getting pain in the shoulder and neck area which we are treating at the moment. He may well still be fit for Saturday but it is a bit frustrating for him coming so soon after getting back into the side. Collin has done a lot of running this week and I would hope to see him step that up next week to something approaching full training." Andy Jackson should be fit as well despite picking up a minor ankle knock.
The hearing this afternoon over Liam Craig ruled that we should pay Falkirk £25,000 now with another 12 grand if we get promoted while he's here and 25% of any future transfer fee.
Finally the club have announced that there wil be a minute's silence prior to kick-off in memory of former player Charlie McFadyen who sadly died last week.
October 22nd - The reserve cup tie was postponed yesterday due to East Fife's injury problems. But Saints managed a bounce game against Forfar at McDiarmid. We won 2-0 thanks to a goal from Andy Jackson and a Peaso header but the main news was that Kevin James managed 75 minutes and Jody Morris the full 90. It wasn't all good with Andy Jackson picking up a knock and having to go off early.
October 21st - Derek Holmes(right) turned 30 at the weekend and the big striker is enjoying his run of form for Saints. He told the Courier, "I turned 30 and it was nice to celebrate with a victory—winning makes all the difference.
The result of the game makes or breaks my weekend.
If we get beat then I am in a bad mood and make life a misery for others.
On Saturday, though, we had a great day at the game then a great night in the house.
Some of the lads came through for the party, which was a sign of the camaraderie at the club. Last week we all played golf and then we all had a laugh on Saturday.
This is probably the most together I have seen a club.
We are all mates and get on well away from the park.
There are some places where players go in, do their work then go home.
Here we all seem to be fighting for the same thing."
"Perhaps we are now looking like the real St Johnstone. Things were a bit down when we weren’t getting the breaks but we can’t wait on the next game coming round as the confidence is so high and the boys are buzzing. I think the Livingston game was a must-win for us because we were four points behind them and would have been seven had we lost. But we have based our performances on being hard to beat because we know we have the best strike force in the division. If the other team don’t get a chance, then we know we have the players to take our opportunities. "
Elsewhere and one interesting story from the Courier has some diddy club called Manchester United apparently watching 16-yr old striker Stephen Reynolds who signed a 3yr contract with us in the summer.
There was some sad news for Saints yesterday with the passing of former player Charlie McFadyen, who played for us between 1955 and 1965 and has the second-highest number of appearances for the club with 336. Our sympathies go out to his family.
Away from Saints and Alex Rae paid the price for being an inept manager in charge of a Dundee team on the downward spiral to administration and was sacked last night - whether they can afford to pay him off properly or even pay compensation for a new manager remains to be seen.
October 20th - Chris Millar reckons that the league this season is even tighter than last. Speaking about that nice win at the weekend, he told the Sun "This was a massive three points for us and we’re now right on the tails of the teams in first place.
It just shows you how tight this league is. I think there are maybe five or six teams who are all in with a shout of being up there fighting for it at the end.
I don’t know if there’s scope to broaden the SPL but it’s maybe something they could look at as I’m sure the quality is definitely there in the First Division just now. We knew it would be a tough game as Livingston are a good side and there wasn’t much in it.
It took a wee bit of quality from Savo to give us the points. We’re delighted and after a wee bit of a sticky start we’re on a good run now.
Derek McInnes was also full of praise for his striker and he said in the Sunday Mail, "Steven's goal was real top drawer. It was a clinical finish and he is on the top of his game just now. His work-rate epitomises the team - he sets the tone. "
October 18th - Paul Sheerin is hoping the international break won't have disturbed the momentum Saints build up in recent weeks. The midfielder said in today's Courier, "It’s probably been bad timing to have the break when it came because it was going quite well and hopefully it’s not had an adverse effect.
I don’t think it should as we have worked hard and there is no reason that will stop.
The last break actually helped because we weren’t in great form going into that and we came out the other side and have gone on a good run.
The change in fortunes has possibly been down to a mixture of sheer hard work and a change in luck.
We knew we had to knuckle down and we spoke about a lot of things and wiped the slate clean after the Clyde game. We’ve also got a bit more of a settled team, which helps."
He also knows that despite early form, we're not in that bad a position due to the tightness of the league. "The last couple of seasons teams have opened a gap within six or seven games and it has been difficult to claw that back. But no one has quite opened that this year. Last year we were eight behind Hamilton at this stage but it’s only four this time. We beat Livingston at the start of the season and although they put us out of the league cup I thought we did okay that night and deserved more out of that one. It’s a great opportunity to cut the gap and depending on the Queen of the South result it could be down to just one point from the top. It is a perfect opportunity to cut the gap with Livingston and then a home game the following week against Partick Thistle. "
In terms of player availability, Kevin James and Jody Morris won't be rushed back with Tuesday's reserve game pencilled in but Steven Anderson and Martin Hardie are both in the squad for this afternoon.
6.30pm -It was Savo that did the damage with a cracking volley to give us a 1-0 win over the East Lothian Mafia a result that thanks to a defeat for Queen of the South puts us fourth but only one point behind the leaders while our Tayside neighbours have dropped to 8th after another home defeat to Ross co. Not a bad afternoon overall....
October 17th - First up its congratulations to Gary
Irvine(right) whose wife gave birth to their first daughter last Monday. The Saints right-back told the Courier, "For the first few nights we thought we were cruising—four, five, six hours’ sleep a night.
After that it was back to reality—up every hour. But she’s back to being fine again and we’ve got the hang of the feeding.
I’m on a high, I just keep smiling, and I hope that goes on to the football pitch.
" Life on the pitch has been better in recent weeks as Saints have finally shown some form and he went on, "It’s been a lot better the last three or four games and the whole team’s been playing better.
It all comes from everybody working hard in training.
We’ve been working hard on the defensive side as a whole team, not just the back four.
I’ve been enjoying my football more as well, the same as a lot of the boys, and hopefully that’s our wee bad spell finished now and we can kick on from here now and keep it going.
Tomorrow sees Saints head to take on Meadowbank in what's going to be a tough game and another "must-win". Gary is expecting a tough encounter with one win for each side in the games so far this season and he said, "The first game of the season was a good win for us because we went half an hour with 10 men, but Livingston picked up their form after that. The cup game was very tight so we going to get a tough game. We’re playing better as a team and working hard for each other and Livingston are coming off the back of a bad result so we’ve got to go in with the same frame of mind as we have recently and hopefully it will be enough on Saturday. I’ve always believed it’s all going to even out because it’s the same every year—every team can beat every team. We’re going in really confident and hopefully we can claw it back and the league will tighten up again. "
Kevin James, Jody Morris and Steven Anderson have all trained this week but tomorrow might be too soon with a reserve cup match next Tuesday more likely for their comeback. Collin Samuel is another who will definitely miss out, while for Livi striker Leigh Griffiths has been told to turn up to the Scotland U-19 squad so will miss the game - thanks to Billy Stark for that one!!!
October 14th - OK so there's not been much happening over the last week with the media more focussed on George Burley's tactical naivety and the Kris Boyd tantrum. But this weekend sees a return to league action with the trip to Livi and Saints have revealed that there will be a big gap in the treatment room as both Kevin James and Jody Morris return to training today. Steven Anderson and Martin Hardie are both back in training as well and Del told the Courier, "I’m not ruling Jody or Kevin out of involvement in the Livi game if they are back in full training this week and show up well. They both did the vast majority of pre-season training and that should stand them in good stead. It’s a boost even to have them involved in training again. Obviously we would have wanted to keep things going but it has given some players a chance to improve their prospects of coming back from injury. But we now have a great chance to close the gap on Livi and we’re looking forward to the match. It’s another big game for us. We want to keep our run of results going—that’s the challenge for the players. It’s an opportunity to peg Livi back, but we have learned not to look too far ahead."
October 7th - Even though theres two weeks before the next game, Saints already have their problems. Collin Samuel(right) has already missed out on his trip to play with T&T after being diagnosed with a deep hamstring tear and he's already a major doubt for the game against Livi on the 18th. Steven
Anderson missed out at the weekend with his ankle injury but should recover while Martin Hardie had a back problem. Kevin James and Jody Morris are continuing their rehab.
Saints have a closed-doors game lined up this week and according to the Courier there's another foreign trialist in town. Meanwhile Del has been talking about the return to the side of Kevin Moon. The manager told the Courier, "Mooner didn’t have a pre-season and was so far behind in terms of general fitness, but he’s surprised us all. I thought it would take about six to eight weeks to get his fitness back but he’s already back to where he was last season. It’s important we don’t expect too much of him, but he’s certainly made a big impact in the two games he’s come on."
October 6th - Two-goal star from Saturday Savo is in the papers today talking about the turnaround in recent weeks. "It was good to get the three points as it’s a good run we’re on, picking up 10 points from 12. We got off to a bad start this season so it was important to get a win today with the international break coming up. We could have had 12 points from 12 but unfortunately we let a late goal in against Queen of the South. I didn’t feel any pressure myself personally but maybe some of the others did. The manager was under a bit of pressure so we’re glad we’ve turned it around for him as well. We achieved it through sheer hard work. We went in after the last international break with no days off and lots of running, a lot of work on the back four and keeping team shape. Most teams have a sticky spell and hopefully we’ve had ours. "
October 5th - Del was happy with the win last night, if not the performance and told the Official Site, "I told the boys before the game that I didn’t want Airdrie coming to Perth and enjoying playing here and I got the response I was looking for - we started nice and brightly and got the early goal. However, as the half wore on we sat off them too much and a wee bit of anxiety crept into our game which I would not have expected from a group of players who have done so well in recent weeks. I was disappointed with the way we finished the first half – although not half as disappointed as I was with the way we started the second! Credit to the boys though, they turned it around by hard work and that is 10 points from 12 which is much more like the thing"
October 4th - It's another must-win today and PR-sacrificial lamb Liam
Craig(right) told the Courier, "We weren’t in a good position at the last break after losing to Clyde on the back of heavy defeats to Partick Thistle and Dunfermline.
To be honest, the way things have been going, the break is probably coming at the wrong time for us this time.
We’ve just taken seven points out of our last nine, and if we can beat Airdrie and make that 10 out of 12 then everyone would be delighted. Nobody could put their finger on what was going wrong at the club when we were losing at the start of the season.
People outside started to panic, but the boys and the management knew we would turn it round, so we were never worried.
The expectation on us is massive, but that comes from within the squad because we all feel we should be winning this league—second or third isn’t good enough.
Our football’s not been as good as we can produce, but our work rate has been great.
If we can keep that up and play a bit more football I think we can start to win games more comfortably.
The midfielder has been standing in at left-back for spells this season and he went on, "I played there a couple of times last season for Saints and for about half a season when I was at Ipswich. Left-back and left midfield are pretty similar positions. Obviously you have to concentrate on the defensive side of things more, but I like the fact that I’m coming on to the ball at left-back and I get to see the whole pitch. One of my strengths is picking out passes and delivering crosses into the box, and that’s still part of my game at left-back. I’m enjoying it. Obviously it’s a lot easier when we’re keeping clean sheets and winning. At the start of the season when I played there we were losing and it was a lot harder. Last weekend I had Savo in front of me and his work rate is second to none, so I knew that if I got caught out he would be there to cover for me. I showed I can play well there on Saturday and I’m happy to keep going as long as the manager wants me to play there. It’s helped my overall game playing in the position by showing me the importance of tracking back from midfield. "
Not much team news with both Kevin Rutkiewicz and Steven Anderson facing late fitness tests after their injuries last weekend.
6.30pm - A good start saw a goal from Gavin Swankie and a brace from Savo as Saints ran out 3-1 winners over Airdrie, a result that keeps us 5th but moves us two clear of the Scumdee and thanks to the QoS 6-1 win over Livi this afternoon keeps us in touch with the leaders just four off the pace.
October 3rd - Latest news from the treatment room is that both Kevin Rutkiewicz and Steven
Anderson have trained this week and Del is hopeful they'll be in the squad for the home match against Airdrie tomorrow. The manager is looking for the standards set in the Scumdee win to be kept up tomorrow and he told the Courier, "The Dundee win has given the place a feel-good factor, but we’ve stressed to the players that there’s no point winning that one if we fall flat on our faces against Airdrie.
They deserve great credit for their approach and work levels are improving no end—and that needs to continue.
We’ve seen the benefit of that in getting seven points from the last nine, and to make it 10 from 12 would be an excellent return."
Looking further ahead and there are tentative plans for the umpteenth comeback for long-term residents of the treatment room Kevin James and Jody Morris. A reserve game is planned for a week on Tuesday and the manager went on, "Jody is on a programme that Chelsea have recommended and he’s not getting much pain. It would be great if he could be back training next week, but, if not, we’re looking at a reserve match on the Tuesday before we play Livingston as a possible target for him and Kevin."
October 2nd - Saints landed their loan keeper today with Gers third choice Lee Robinson joining on loan for a month. He's already familiar to Saints after facing us when on loan at Morton last year.
October 1st - So much for things going swimmingly at McDiarmid. Derek McInnes is out in the market this week for an emergency loan for a keeper after Euan
McLean(right) broke his scaphoid in training. Apparently its some bone in his wrist which means he's in plaster and the injury is set to rule him out for four to six weeks. The manager said, "Euan will be out for four weeks at best so we are looking to bring someone in I have a couple of players in mind and hopefully we’ll have one of them tied up in time for him to train with us on Thursday."
There was a trialist keeper in goal then for yesterdays Reserve League Cup game against the Pars and Saints were trounced 5-0 by their Fife rivals. Ach well at least it doesn't count....
Top Of News
September 30th - With the Wizard of the Wing Paul Sheerin rating Saturday's goal amongst the top 3 of his career, Savo(right) has also been talking about his performance to the Courier following his contentious ordering off in a reserve game. "I honestly couldn’t believe it when I was sent off. I was stunned.
I didn’t even touch the guy, and didn’t think I’d get so much as a yellow card.
I’d never been sent off in my life, not at any level of the game. I think I’ve had about six bookings in my whole career and the last one came when I was celebrating a goal!
When I got into the changing room that night it dawned on me that I might miss games because of it but, as I’d never been suspended, I hadn’t taken much notice of how the system worked so I didn’t know for sure. I think I’m on 12 points now which is a career high.
I had to miss the Queen of the South match and I was already low before that to be honest because I’d found myself out of the team the week before, and didn’t think I’d done much wrong. The manager changed the system and there wasn’t a place for me in it.
The sending off against Cowdenbeath reserves took me even lower but I had to get my head right.
I was lucky enough to get a start against Dundee and hopefully that will have turned things round.
The first half I played wide on the left but I went up front in the second and it was a great feeling when the ball hit the back of the net for my goal.
The three points were thoroughly deserved and now that the confidence is back in the team after taking seven points from the last nine—we were unlucky not to get nine—we’re looking for another three against Airdrie before the break and to kick on in the second quarter of the season after that.
Derek McInnes was also full of praise and said, "Players are performing better individually and certain boys are getting fitter and stronger, which has played a part in recent weeks. We know that there’s no point in beating Dundee and having two good away performances if we don’t beat Airdrie. Yes, we’ve turned the corner in terms of results but we have to recognise the reason for that. It’s not because of silky soccer, it’s because we’re working hard, and that’s got to continue "
Kevin Rutkiewicz picked up an ankle knock at the weekend and left the ground on crutches but Saints are hopeful he'll be fine for the Airdrie game.
September 29th - Martin Hardie reckons the good run is down to Saints being more practical in their approach to games. Speaking after Saturday's glorious win he told the Courier, "The run of the bad results was a real kick up the backside.
Collectively there was a need to work that bit harder and we’re doing that now.
Since I’ve been here we’ve always had that big physical side to us with the likes of myself, Kevin James and Kevin Rutkiewicz and, in the past, Simon Mensing.
The gaffer has brought in different types since he took charge.
But over the past few weeks we’ve been playing 4-5-1 and become hard to beat which is a good basis to build from because we have players who’ll get us goals.
The aim now is to just keep picking up points and see where we are come November/December when the title contenders usually emerge."
As for the disallowed goal, the midfielder went on, "We should have been 1-0 up at half-time. The referee said he disallowed the own goal for a push but there wasn’t one. I had my arm on him but that’s just part and parcel of going for a header. There was no shove and even Eric Paton, who I know, said to me the decision was a bit harsh. "
Elsewhere in the game and bad news for ex-Saints skipper Jim Weir who parted company as manager of Montrose on Saturday night after their defeat to Cowdenbeath.
September 27th - Alan Main(right) reckons that today's game is one of the most important for both clubs in years. After a disappointing start to the season, the pressure has eased a bit on Derek McInnes but increased on Alex Rae (ah diddums). The saints keeper told the Courier this morning, "I’ve been involved in some massive games for this club against Dundee.
But this probably would be the biggest since that day we were going for Europe.
Both teams are in a position neither would have expected to be in. Both of us need to win.
Our performances have been getting better as far as the amount of work we’ve been putting in is concerned.
And if we work harder than Dundee and cut out the individual mistakes then I believe we can get a good result.
We didn’t do particularly well against them last season.
We need to win this time and send our fans home happy.
We’ve another home game coming up after this one and we’ve got to look to continue the wee run we are on.
We’ve gone to two difficult places and picked up four points which isn’t bad going.
The response to the spell we had has been there for everyone to see. We’re all pulling in the right direction and really focused on climbing the league.
But we need to make it seven from nine then hopefully 10 from 12.
And in amongst that we could do with a clean sheet as we’ve conceded too many goals.
Doing that should go some way towards repairing the damage done by the start we made to the season and although Livingston have a lead over us I think they’ll be caught and dragged back into the pack.
Gavin Swankie and Steven Anderson have both been passed fit and Saints also have Peaso and Steven Milne available after suspension.
6.30pm - One of those perfect afternoons today as Saints humped Scumdee 2-0 thanks to a couple of cracking second-half goals from Paul Sheerin and Steven Milne which helped shove us up to the heady heights of fifth spot and no doubt has the Courier copywriters dragging out the black borders for Monday morning's sports page.
September 26th - It seems that both Gavin
Swankie and Steven
Anderson are winning the fitness battle for this weekend's big match. Of course the former also has to deal with the thinly-veiled threats of a "warm welcome" that Alex "Shoogly Peg" Rae made over the summer when the winger switched from Dens to the cleaner surroundings of McDiarmid. Gavin
Swankie told the Courier, "I read what the Dundee manager said when I left, but it didn’t bother me then and it still doesn’t.
Neither club has got off to the best of starts in the league, so it’s all about getting a win.
I’m expecting pelters from Dundee fans, but it won’t get to me if I play.
I just hope I’m playing and that we get all three points to build momentum after the bad spell we went through earlier.
I’ve had a lot of treatment and it seems to be okay.
It was a real disappointment to miss out last week because I’ve had a stop-start career so far at Perth, but these things happen and, like the rest of the guys here, I’m really getting fired up at the prospect of the derby.
We have taken four points at difficult places in the last two games, but we’re back at home now and three points would move us up the table.
Speaking of the game, Derek McInnes said, "It might be early in the season, but it is a massive game and one we are determined to do ourselves justice in. Dundee will be fired up after losing to Livingston last week —we can expect blood and thunder and will have to tackle that head on. It will be good to have Gavin and Ando available—Gavin has had niggling injuries, but is a quality player and will definitely be up for it. There’s always an added edge when you play your old club for the first time, but he is single-minded enough to handle it and play well. "
Finally, congratulations to Collin Samuel who is in the Trinidad and Tobago squad for their World Cup game in Guatemala on October 11th.
September 24th - Little news coming out of McD this week with the "local" paper concentrating more on the boardroom shenanigans affecting this weekend's visitors. Saints have a couple of problems ahead of the game against Scumdee with Gavin Swankie and Steven Anderson both doubtful for the game with hamstring and knee injuries respectively. Kevin James and Jody Morris have already been ruled out (as usual).
September 20th - Saints head for Dumfries today (and yes I am going to put the jinx on the winning run), with confidence apparently higher after last week's win. It looks like it might be an unchanged side and that will suit Gavin
Swankie(right) just fine after he got his first start in ages last weekend. The winger told the Courier, "The manager will be tempted to go the same way because in the Ross County match everybody did their job well and we won. We don’t know what he has decided yet, though.
I wouldn’t say the formation we used last weekend was a defensive one because we’ve got boys in our midfield who like to push forward, but it’s more compact and harder to break down.
I’m still playing on the wing but with Sammy up front on his own I have to make sure I push up to support him. I like attacking so it’s natural for me to push on. I’ve been in and out of the side so far this season so hopefully I can now get a run of games. It’s another long trip for us and another difficult venue but even though teams have found it tough there in the past, we won’t be looking back. It’s all about what happens on the day and we’ve got a team that can go down there and take all three points. Obviously, we were needing to get a win under our belt after not getting one since the first game of the season and losing a few on the bounce. After getting three points, it has definitely been a happier camp this week. It was great to get back to winning ways and other results went for us as well, which made the league table look better. We’re back within touching distance. We’ll take that confidence into this match and hopefully follow it up with another win."
Derek McInnes meanwhile is expecting a tough encounter. "Queens have a strong squad. They are formidable at home and we’ve found it difficult there in the past. I’m sure it will be a difficult test again. But we’re going down in good spirits and looking for another win. We didn’t get the start we were looking for but we’ve had a confidence boost and the players and supporters needed that. We’re five points off the top and we know there’s a lot more to come from us. "
7.30pm - Well it wasn't three points that came back up the road but a good Saints performance saw us draw 2-2 with Queen of the South at Palmerston. They took the lead from the penalty spot before a Thomson own goal and a Derek Holmes finish gave us the lead only for a late sclaffed equaliser for the home side eight minutes from time. Elsewhere in the league and Livi extended their lead at the top of the table with a 3-0 gubbing of the Scum at Dense Park - hopefully leaving our Tayside neighbours suitably depressed and defeated ahead of next weekends encounter at McDiarmid.
September 19th - Jody
Morris(right) has apparently been making use of his old contacts while laid up and has enjoyed a week of treatment for his hamstring at Stamford Bridge. Derek McInnes revealed to the Courier, "Jody’s been there since Sunday and he’s certainly in good hands. He served the club well while he was there and they’ve been very welcoming. I think Lampard helped him out and we’re very appreciative of it. We’re really thankful that Jody’s contacts have helped in hopefully getting him back available to us quicker. There’s a very good success rate with it and it speeds up the recovery process.
They had him scanned, and took into account all the treatment he had done here. Although it was baffling us it didn’t seem to baffle them.
The fact that he had had a calf injury on the same leg as his hamstring injury and that he had been experiencing stiffness in his back all added up, and Jody’s problems didn’t surprise them.
He’s been given injections, including an epidural, and a lot of one-to-one stuff. He’s coming back tomorrow after seeing Chelsea’s back specialist and they’re going to break everything down and tell us what the course of action should be and how long it should take. There’s no guarantee that he won’t break down again, but at least we’re exhausting all the avenues. I’m sure he’ll be fine."
On the plus side there will only be Kevin James and Jody Morris ruled out through injury at Palmerston but Peaso and Steven Milne will also be missing after being eejits in the reserve game.
September 17th - Derek McInnes wasn't a happy man yesterday as he gave his reaction to the reserve game on Monday night, especially the two red cards. His target wasn't the players though and speaking in the Courier he raged, "I’m really disappointed. It was very harsh on both players.
For Peaso's one there was a coming together with the Cowdenbeath lad and the referee has said that he thought he had kicked out at the boy.
From where I was sitting he didn’t lay a finger on him.
Steven Milne has hardly been booked in his career, let alone sent off but the referee said he made a ‘vicious, two footed lunge’. I didn’t even think it was a free-kick.
Anybody who knows him knows he’d be the last player who would make a challenge like that. He’s absolutely distraught about it.
We’ll have to do without both of them on Saturday which is a huge disappointment for them and for me. Both boys were keen to play in the reserve game and I’m gutted for them. You want your strikers to keep ticking over and to build a bit of confidence by hopefully scoring a couple of goals in games like that. Maybe I’ll learn from this in the future.
There was more bad news with Kevin James ruled out of the journey to Dumfries at the weekend.
September 16th - Not a good start for the reserves last night as they went down 3-0 to Cowdenbeath in the League Cup. It was a strong reserve side and to add to the problems, both Peaso and Steven Milne(right) saw red during the encounter ruling both players out of the weekend trip to Dumfries. See, just when you thought it was getting better......Still on the plus side it was another good run out for returning midfielder Kevin Moon.
Paul Sheerin meanwhile is looking to get a winning streak underway before the next international break. With some tough games coming up, he told the Courier, "Having going into the last international break with a huge sense of disappointment we knew we had four games until the next Scotland match to try and rectify the situation. Winning at Ross County was a start. Now we’ve three other tough fixtures, Queen of the South away, Dundee home then Airdrie, who are going well. Our aim is to pick up maximum points from those fixtures. You look at the improvement in our position over the weekend, where a combination of our winning and results elsewhere allowed us to close to within five points of the top, and realise that the opportunity to undo the harm we’ve done ourselves with the start to the season we made is definitely there. In previous years Hamilton and Gretna have opened a gap. This time no-one has managed to do that and after the way we’ve started it’s encouraging that we only have the five points to make up. "
September 15th - Despite some criticism about being "negative" from whinging Ross Co manager Derek Adams, Derek McInnes was happy with Saturday's win. He told the Courier today, "We worked very hard for the win. County, being the home team, got a very good goal and pushed us back in the last 20 minutes and we looked a wee bit nervy towards the end, but that’s understandable considering the way results have been. We were so desperate for the win to get us going.Collin Samuel will get the headlines, but it was on the back of a solid team performance. Today’s a start, and hopefully we can go on and build on that. "
September 13th - Stuart McCaffrey seems to have some faith in the lads for today's game - he reckons the omens are good that Saints will end their winning streak. Basing this wacky optimism thing on previous experience with Caley Thistle, he told the Courier, "I agree that Ross County away is a really tough match. But when I was thinking about it the other day I remembered one particular game I played against them when I was with Inverness.
We were notoriously slow starters and one season in the first division when Steve Paterson was manager we were on a similar points tally after four or five games to the one we’re on just now.
Then we faced Ross County and won. It got our season going then—we were top of the league by Christmas—and if we get a win tomorrow I’m sure we would get going here.
We’ve hit a real low at the moment and now we’ve got to pick ourselves up. Someone once said, ‘the quicker you fall behind, the more time you’ve got to catch up.’ Hopefully that will be the case for us.
A win tomorrow would give us the confidence to start moving up the table. In this league two or three wins in a row can get you right back up there.
The defender wants to help ease the pressure on under-fire Derek McInnes as well. "It’s time we made his job easier. He’s brought most of us here and he’s kept most of us here. With the ability that’s in the dressing room we haven’t done him, ourselves or the fans justice. If you don’t get results then I think the stick that comes will always be merited. I don’t think anyone can honestly say that he’s performed as well as he can so far. We deserve all the criticism but I don’t think the manager does. The players have been focused and worked hard in training and in the bounce match on Monday. It’s always good to test yourselves against Premier League players because if you can hold your own against them it gives you confidence coming up against players in your own league. Things haven’t gone for us so far and it’s had a knock-on effect. We have to accept that we might go behind in games, but, if we do, it’s not the end of the world and the game doesn’t finish then. Yes we need to start better, but if we go behind we need to respond. Confidence is low and it’s a huge thing in football, but if you get stuck in and work your way into a game things will come from that. We need to win our individual battles and that’s something we have to address. The gaffer’s not been able to pick a settled side because we haven’t been putting in the performances that would make him able to do that. We have to start doing that. "
No new injury worries for Saints (for a change) with Kevin James and Jody Morris still ruled out. Kevin Moon is fit but lacks match fitness so will take no part in the action.
5.30pm - Well, a combination of the flu, lack of cash and apathy meant I didn't bother with the trip. But without my support the lads did well with a 2-1 win over Ross County thanks to a double from Collin Samuel. The result sees us move up to 7th which is at least some progress.
September 12th - More bad news for Saints with Jody
Morris' hamstring injury now ruling him out for several more weeks. Derek McInnes(right) told the Courier, "Jody played for half-an-hour and started to feel his hamstring again.
We had him scanned and he’s still got a tear there which is a major blow for us and for Jody himself.
He’d had nine days of full training, that’s the strange thing about it. He’s been able to do so much work, more than he’d experience in a game. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it because it doesn’t add up. He’ll see a specialist in the next couple of days to shed some light on it, hopefully, and to make sure this doesn’t happen again. But we’re going to be without him for a few weeks.
I placed a big importance on him at the start of the season and we could do with him even more so just now. But we’ll get on with it."
On the plus side, Kevin James might be back next week and the manager continued, "You’re always tested as a manager but we were fortunate to win a lot of games last season and when that’s happening and things are ticking along nicely it seems easy. But when you’re not winning you’re analysing everything and it’s a bit more trying for you. If you took two or three key players out of any team in the country they would suffer but I still think we’re better than we’re showing at the moment. The players’ confidence has been dented but the only way for it to return is to start getting clean sheets and wins. They’ve worked hard over the last two weeks and hopefully we’ll see the effects of that on Saturday. We need to get a result that will give us more confidence individually and as a team "
Chris Millar, meanwhile, is looking to the national side for inspiration tomorrow. He said, "It’s a cliche but a week is a long-time in football, as Scotland have shown. If we can get a win in Dingwall it’s all change— and that could really kick-start the season. We definitely feel we owe the manager a result. He brought me and other guys here and kept the players he wanted. So far we’ve let down him and the supporters so we’ll be doing our best to get a win against Ross County. We have Ross County and Queen of the South away and then Dundee at home. Those are three tough games but they could turn around the season. We have been working hard over the last two weeks and, believe me, the players have been as frustrated as the fans with recent results. The gaffer has let us know he isn’t happy and the boys have taken it on board. "
September 11th - Kevin James has talked down the doom merchants after his non-appearance on Monday. Despite feeling some after-effects of his cartilage operation, it seems he's done too much too soon but is still on course with his recovery. He told the Courier, "I think maybe we were hoping that things would heal quicker, but it’s just basically stuck to the time frame. There was not any great disappointment, even if it would have been good to play. The knee is still not right yet, but everything is still going to plan and the specialist is delighted with the way it is healing. "
September 9th - So much for the hoped-for recovery in yesterday's closed-doors game. Kevin James didn't take part due to a cartilage problem while Jody
Morris lasted only 30 minutes before his hamstring injury flared up again. Derek McInnes told the Courier, "Jody felt his hamstring so we took him off as a precaution.
He hasn’t pulled it again but he was feeling something. We’ll have to see how he is in the morning.
Kevin looked to be coming along well but may have overdone things. The knee has swollen up a bit and the doctor wants to let it settle down for a couple of days before making an assessment later this week
On the plus side, Kevin Rutkiewicz came through the 90 minutes unscathed and Saints managed a 1-1 draw with Gavin Swankie getting our goal.
September 5th - Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) reckons the season is by no means over despite an August form which has ranked just slightly below "shite". The Saints defender told the Courier, "We’re all angry and frustrated about what’s happened and desperate to put things right.
We’re right behind the gaffer and, make no mistake about it, we will rectify this situation.
No excuses. We’re not going to point to the injuries we’ve had. With the squad we’ve got we should be doing so much better than this.
The only saving grace is that we could have been much worse placed as a result of this run.
We’re eight points off top spot but if this had been last season when Hamilton won their first six games we’d have been 14-15 adrift.
As it is, despite the bad start we’ve made, we are still maybe only a couple of wins away from getting right back in there.
But we need to get our house in order.“And that means forgetting about trying to blow teams away by three or four goals, and concentrating on making ourselves harder to beat.
He missed the Livi and Clyde games after a bout of illness and luckily for him, barely recollects the Firhill debacle. "I can’t remember much about what happened at all. I’ve been told my performance was horrendous. But my memory of the game is hazy at best. I can recall the first few minutes but beyond that it’s just bits and pieces. Sitting in the dugout after being substituted, apparently I was sleeping. And by the time I got back into the changing room I was becoming less and less responsive so I was taken to hospital. It wasn’t until the middle of the Sunday afternoon that I started to come round. At that point it felt like a double decker bus had hit me. It turns out I had a viral meningitis which thankfully is less sinister than bacterial meningitis. But it just crept up on me. I had no warning. It wasn’t as if I felt ill during the warm up. The thinking is that the virus was there and heading the ball possibly triggered things. The virus hadn’t kicked in but I developed a migraine and the two things together knocked my system for six. I had a week of doing nothing and barely eating. As a result I lost 8lbs. But by the start of this week I felt well enough to start jogging. And now I just want to put this episode behind me. "
September 3rd -Derek McInnes hasn't ruled out making use of the freebies market or the emergency loan system to strengthen the squad this week. And the fallout from Monday's closed doors game has seen Paul Sheerin(right) and Gavin Swankie pick up injuries which curtailed their involvement in the game to only the first 20 minutes. There was at least better news for Kevin Moon who continued his comeback from his pelvic injury with 75 minutes of action under his belt.
September 2nd - The transfer deadline came and went last night with no new faces apparently willing to join Saints although if rumours are to be believed it wasn't for want of trying with Saints linked with freed Hibee Martin Canning, Killie player Martyn Corrigan and Clyde defender Neil McGregor at some point during the day.
There was some good news though as Kevin Rutkiewicz returned to light training yesterday. There's some hope he'll be fit for a closed doors game at Tynecastle next Monday.
September 1st - Midnight tonight marks the closure of the transfer window and as yet there's no sign of any approach to either ship out or bring in players. Rumours abound of dressing-room and training ground bust-ups at the club but as yet there has been no comment / action from the club. It does seem that the days off this week and the weekend off for the forthcoming international break have both been cancelled at the club with extra training sessions ordered to try and get them fit enough to get out of this mess, with Derek McInnes' job apparently safe until the 13th at least.
Saints took part in a 2-1 win in a closed doors game against Rangers at Murray Park with the Saints side made up of subs and fringe players from the weekend added to by the likes of Kevin Moon. Kevin Rutkiewicz returned to training this morning and he will join Jody Morris and Kevin James in another closed doors game next week.
Tony Docherty was still nursing the pain from the weekend and he told the Official Site, "It was a sore one, there is no two ways about it. Having got a lifeline just before half-time we really stirred things up during the break and the players were fired up and ready win the game in the second half and when we got the equaliser I thought that we would do just that. It was the way it should be - we were playing some great attacking football, the crowd were responding and we were causing them a lot of problems. So to then lose the game is very, very disappointing. The manner in which the free kick was given away and then the goal conceded were real sickeners." As for the coming fortninght, he went on, "We have a fortnight to re-group and work hard ahead of three very difficult games. Derek and I realise what we have to do and it will turn - it will definitely turn. The failings are there for all to see and we are being heavily punished for them at the moment so we have to work on those but at the same time focus on the positives. We can't lose heart and there is absolutely no sense of panic. We did a lot of good things on Saturday - there was some really good attacking play - and we have to develop those things. There is a strong resolve and real determination to get things right."
Top Of News
August 31st - With post-mortems going on all over the web and the rumour machine in overdrive concerning dressing-room breakups, at least Derek McInnes seems to know what's wrong. Under mounting criticism to end his time in charge, the Saints manager told the Official Site, "It is clear to see where the problems lie. The first goal is as poor a goal as you are likely to see conceded at this level, the second goal is yet another set piece and Clyde's winner comes from a needlessly conceded free kick.
Having changed things at half time and watched his side get back on level terms the gaffer felt his side might actually go and win the game but at the same time was always concerned that a goal could be conceded.
I thought we built up a wee head of steam in the second half and played some good football. We are a good side when we move the ball quickly but I still had that doubt, that worry we could be vulnerable at the back.
I know what the problems are and it is up to me to get it sorted. We were as poor at the back today as I have seen us - players have had the opportunity to prove they are up to the job and I now have a fortnight to address the problems. We need a fit Kevin James, we need Kevin Rutkiewicz back performing at the level he was last season, Alan Morgan lacks match fitness but that will come.
The sort of goals we are conceding spread negativity and lack of confidence. We WILL address it."
Whether or not that means changes in the squad ahead of tomorrow night's transfer deadline remains to be seen but it has to be said that defensively we had a nightmare yesterday, while in midfield, too many players are not contributing enough to the cause. Too often in recent games we've been hit hard from kick-off and it's left us on the back foot for most of the match. Personally, I believe that we have decent individual players - certainly nobody wanted to criticise the manager's signings ahead of the season. But we are lacking in fitness and discipline and workrate on the park with little or no leadership (as a stand-in skipper Martin Hardie has been useless). Until that's addressed we'll just remain a good squad on paper.
August 30th - Martin Hardie seems to have the solution for a win today to get the season back on track after a pretty shitty few weeks. The midfielder spoke to the Courier ahead of the latest in a series of "must-win" games and said, "Nobody who saw first division football last season would say that Hamilton were a team with the most flair.
But they played to a system, got stuck in and they won games that way. That’s how you go and win a first division. It’s not about playing total football.
Everybody wants to coast through games with comfortable wins but that’s not how it works in this league.
You need to earn the right to win games and that’s how we’re going to win points this season. We definitely performed better against Livingston in midweek and that gives us something to build on. We knew that any kind of performance would be better than the one against Thistle. We worked hard off the ball, and on it, so we’ll take the positives from it. I missed the Dunfermline match with a virus, but the defeat at Partick was the worst since I came to St Johnstone. Nothing went right and we were hurting after it.
“We had a team talk afterwards and took that into the Livingston match. The work-rate was much better and we now need that every week.
The players really appreciated the backing we got from our supporters on Tuesday night because they could have thought ‘what’s the point’ if the Thistle performance was what they were going to get. I think they realised there was an improvement and that’s the way forward from now on.
Meanwhile Del wasn't slow in mincing his words. "We’re desperate for a win. From personal experience there’s nothing worse than going into a two-week break for internationals on the back of a poor result. By the time our next game against Ross County comes around we should have all the injured players back in contention. We just want to come through this game unscathed and with three points. The response I got from the players on Tuesday was the response I was hoping to get against Partick Thistle after the Dunfermline match. It’s only hard work that will turn things round and, although we didn’t get the result, it’s a platform to build on. Clyde will believe they can get a result and we will have to be on our game to make sure they don’t."
6.30pm - Another mess on the park and despite coming back from two behind thanks to goals from Stuart McCaffrey and Derek Holmes Saints still managed to blow it going down 3-2 at home to Clyde a result which leaves us languishing in 9th spot. Expect the calls for change to be a lot more vocal over the next fortnight before the trip to Dingwall.
August 29th - Ahead of tomorrow's game against Clyde there is an interesting
piece in the PA today concerning Saints off the park. The
McDiarmid chairman Geoff Brown(right) has mooted the possibility of
demolishing the North Stand in order to free up the land for housing. Working on the premise that we rarely have the crowds to
fill the 8,500 capacity that would leave McDiarmid with (even if we
went to the SPL where no doubt TV deals would kill off capacity
crowds), it does make some business sense. But then you'd have
to consider the loss of atmosphere that a 4-stand ground can give
(as anyone who has been to Broadwood can testify) and whether
or not we'd be making a rod for our own backs if the crowds ever
did increase again.
Meanwhile the manager is looking for an improvement for the Clyde game with a fortnight's break looming following the match. Doing his pre-match eternal optimisim speech, Del told the Official Site, "We have to take the positives from Tuesday. If we play in the manner we did at Almondvale then it will give us a platform to go on and win tomorrow. I know from experience that there is nothing worse than going into a two week break on the back of a defeat so we have to apply ourselves properly tomorrow to make sure that doesn't happen. There is a chance we will have Kevin James and Jody Morris back for the trip to Dingwall - the prospects of that at the moment are good but we've been here before so we'll see what the next fortnight brings before we get too hopeful. I've stressed before how important I think Jody will be to this team."
There was some good news with Kevin Moon resuming training this week but it's too soon for his involvement in the matchday squad. For tomorrow, Paul Sheerin and Derek Holmes will be face fitness tests while Kevin Rutkiewicz will again miss out - he hasn't even resumed training yet after his mystery illness.
August 28th -No updates yesterday as I was getting the replacement machine up and running but plenty to talk about today. Del seemed to be happier with the performance, if not the result against Livi. The Saints manager told the Official Site, "I thought
there was a better shape and a better organisation to the team
last night but more importantly I thought there was a different
attitude. It was the sort of response I was looking for after the
previous two games and showed that we have players who can
dig in when things are not going so well. I think some people
doubted that we did. The goals we lost were disappointing -
another set piece play and then a mistake but I can accept honest
mistakes no problem although we have to work hard to cut them
out as there are simply too many of them at the moment. Hard
work is the key and the harder we work the better it will be and we
might even get some luck!"
Elsewhere and it looks like David Weatherston's spell at Saints is over with a move to Queen of the South set to take place this week for an undisclosed fee. While it could be argued he's not been given a real chance at Saints, the surplus of attacking midfielder and strikers signed recently meant first-team opportunities were always going to be limited for the ex-Queen's Park man and the manager told the Courier, "My priority at the moment is trying to sort us out at the back. We have a number of options up front and David is perhaps the only player who I can agree has not had his opportunity this season. He’s a hard-working boy and we wish him all the best at his new club.". Best of luck to him in the future.
August 26th - Alan Main has apparently been leading the call for the players to get their act together. After marking his return to the side in the 4-0 defeat at Firhill, the goalie told the Courier, "No one was happy with the performance against Partick. It was shocking.
We owe it to ourselves and the manager to get the finger out and start working harder.
“I don’t think we are strong enough right now and everyone has to be taking more responsibility.
We’re all grown men. The least we should be doing is giving it 100% for our group of fans and the boss. It’s just not good enough at the moment—we can’t pass, can’t defend, we can’t seem to do anything properly— and that has to change. There’s no way I’ll single anyone out because I’m part of it. We all have to look to ourselves and ask how much we really want success.
Our attitude should be one of let’s get on with it. Everyone’s so disappointed but now we have to go out against Livi and show we can play.
We have a good group of lads here. But players have to do more. We need leaders, we can’t afford anyone hiding.
Latest news on Kevin Rutkiewicz is that he's still undergoing tests, and as yet he's expected to be out for a while. There's no word of any replacement body arriving to shore up the defence and the manager said, "At the minute all our options are up front. The balance of the team is wrong and it’s vital we address that as you need the platform of defending properly to go and win games. On Saturday, while three of Partick’s four goals were wonder strikes they came about because we didn’t defend the secondary part of set plays.We do a lot of work on set pieces and the players know they don’t drop their man until the ball is in the stand, the opposition half or we have good possession. But too many of Thistle’s goals came from guys who should have been picked up and weren’t. We’ve got good players here who haven’t become bad overnight. We’ve had two horrendous results but we’re only four games into the season and we just have to focus all our energies on the Livingston cup tie. There’s nothing can be done about the Dunfermline or Partick games. But we can affect what happens tomorrow night and I’m looking for the players to show the hunger and determination needed to go and get the result we need. Since we beat them here on the opening day Livingston have won three in a row. They’ll be thinking if they score against us they’ll win— which is a terrible thing from our point of view. It’s in our hands. If we were to go behind then we’d just have to respond in the right way, showing a belief and a trust in each other that we still have enough about us to hit back."
Meanwhile Saints announced a profit of just under £300,000 for the year to May 2008 - so it's not all bad news.
11.30pm - Loan signing Alan Morgan was brought on board from Killie this afternoon in a deal through to the end of 2008. The 24-yr old was at Caley Thistle before moving to Rugby Park and had been one of Del's first signing targets only to lose out to the lure of the SPL. He made his debut at Almondvale tonight and put on a good show as a much-improved Saints side were unlucky to go down 2-1 to Livingston after extra-time with Liam Craig getting the Saints goal. Diddy cup anyway.
August 25th - Expect more changes to the Saints side tomorrow night. Kevin Rutkiewicz is ruled out. A poor first-half on Saturday ended with
the defender going to hospital after the Firhill defeat. He's still
there and has been diagnosed with a viral infection. Dan Smith has been let go while Stuart McCaffrey has a slight groin problem - the latter
should start tomorrow and may even be joined by a new face. The
target left-back from Scandanavia looks like he won't be coming
either after his club decided he can't move to Scotland - so expect
more moves there.
Del told the Official Side, "Kevin's situation is a bit of a worry and Nick Summersgill is liaising with the doctors at the hospital to establish what the problem might be. I have decided to let Dan go and so we will have to re-jig the defence. It leaves us very short at the back and I have been working since Saturday night to bring someone in and I am hopeful we might have a new face in time for the Livingston game." The manager also had plenty to say about the defeat at the weekend. "Coming on the back of the previous week?s defeat from Dunfermline that is two horrendous results and performances, there's no two ways about it. All four goals on Saturday were from set plays and that is so disappointing because we work hard on these things in training. The players know that what they do in the secondary part of defending set plays is just as important as what they do with the initial stage - you don't lose your man until the ball has been cleared away from danger. It has been made clear to them that they have to see these things through and they didn't do it at Firhill."
Tomorrow gives the players a chance to react and he went on, "We have to react the right way. Too many heads went down on Saturday and any opposition player just now must be thinking if they score they'll win. However, we know we have players who can turn this around and we all must channel our energies into the Livingston game now. Things won't change if we feel sorry for ourselves. Only hard work will solve the problems we have at the moment."
August 23rd -Alan Main(right) will definitely return to the Saints side today as we head through to play Partick. The keeper told the Courier, "The recovery has taken a wee bit longer than I’d expected.
I thought I’d have returned before now.
But I’ve been working hard to get back into the swing of things and was quite happy with how things went on Monday.
Before the game I didn’t feel too great but during it I was spot on.
The first test I had was a save down to my left and the shoulder was fine which was reassuring.
I have a fair amount of stretching to do before and after training and am having to work even harder in the gym than before.
But I don’t mind that. When I was younger I wasn’t so keen on the gym but now I recognise the need to be as strong as I can be.
At my age I need to supervise how I train in order to be spot on when I’m needed to play. But I feel in good nick. Last weekend would have been too early after seven to eight weeks out. But I’m getting back up to the pace required.
You can train as much as you want, but kicking, dealing with cross balls and decision making can only really be honed in match situations.
With the ball over the top being so much a part of the game as it is nowadays, deciding whether to come or stay is so important. There were a couple of moments against Ayr when I’d a decision to make and I was happy with the course I chose.
The manager will make other changes today given Kevin James absence. He said, "Kevin’s absence provides either Steven Anderson or Stuart McCaffrey with a chance to come in and stake a claim. I’ve seen a reaction from the players in training and hopefully I’ll see it in the match as well, because that’s where it counts."
7.30pm - Christ if you thought last week was bad then tonight will have you heading for the oven. Plenty of swearie words in the report so if you're of a sensitive nature I'd avoid reading about the 4-0 defeat at Partick which saw us plumb new depths of shittiness. I'm off to hibernate till the cup game.
August 22nd - Nick McKoy is in the papers today giving his first interview since joining the Sacred Ones. The midfielder told the Courier, "I’ve been without a club for a year after picking up an injury while I was on trial last year and it has been a tough time and hard to deal with, especially after being at one club for so long.
After being released by Cardiff I was at MK Dons and then 45 minutes into my first training session with Dagenham and Redbridge I broke my foot.
It was a disaster because I was out of contract and had to wait for treatment on the NHS. I was out for three months. It couldn’t have come at a worse time.
All I want to do now is play football and make up for lost time.
Hopefully this move will help myself and help push the club forward. If the manager needs me I’m ready to start as soon as possible.
I haven’t had my troubles to seek but I have dealt with them. I’ve had a rough time of it but hopefully things will change for me in Scotland.
Speaking of his new signing, Del said, "Nick is young and a bit raw but we have seen enough to believe there are attributes we can work on, He is a big, powerful player but he isn’t just a ball winner. I was always conscious of the need for a physical presence in the middle of the park in this division and had a close look at Nick last season and he was with us in Birmingham for pre-season. I wasn’t in a position to offer him something before but the chairman and the board have been very supportive. Nick goes into the squad for Firhill. He’s desperate for the opportunity to get his career back on track. It’s a short-term deal initially and he has a great chance to prove himself. "
He goes into the squad for tomorrow. And there may be a change at the back with Del set to hand Alan Main a return. The manager told the paper, "Alan had a tremendous season last year and is a top professional whom I cannot speak highly enough of. Losing him to his shoulder injury was a real blow and his recovery has taken a wee bit longer than expected. Because of that he needed to get a game under his belt before coming into first-team contention again. And he got one against Ayr followed by a full weeks training so he definitely comes into my thoughts. "
August 21st - Del is in the papers today explaining the story behind Kevin James' injury woes. The Saints manager told the paper, "Kevin had his knee scoped this morning and it has shown a cartilage tear.
Best case he’ll be out three weeks but worst case is five to six weeks.
He had a wee problem during the Dunfermline game but managed to complete it and as there was no swelling on the Sunday we didn’t think there was anything very wrong.
But by Tuesday the knee had stiffened up and we sent him to the surgeon, who agreed to operate straight away.
The joint had locked because of a bit of floating cartilage.
It’s disappointing because Kevin is such an influential player for us and he’ll be missed.
But it’s an opportunity for some to come in and fill his place. Steven
Anderson got 90 minutes against Ayr United on Monday, as did Stuart McCaffrey, so we have options.". Martin Hardie was back in training yesterday and looks set to face Partick at the weekend.
No word about the new arrival yet but the papers all report that he's at McDiarmid with a veiw to signing.
5.30pm- Well there was nothing to worry about as Nick McKoy(right) today signed a deal through to the end of 2008
August 20th - We've been linked in today's papers with a midfield signing which the club are hoping to take place today with the target believed to be Nick McKoy who had a spell on trial at the start of last season.
Elsewhere it was mixed news from the club. Congratulations to Andy Jackson who earned his first Ireland U-21 cap last night, playing for an hour in their 1-1 draw. Martin Hardie has resumed training but there was bad news for skipper Kevin James(right) who is set to be on the sidelines for several weeks with a knee injury.
August 19th - Saints were back training yesterday after what the skipper called a "bad day at the office" at the weekend. Still missing was Martin Hardie, but he's expected to return today while Kevin Moon should be back in training next week. There was a closed doors game last night to help improve the match sharpness of Alan Main.
August 17th - There were no excuses from the Saints manager today as the post-mortem began on the defeat. Del told the Official Site, "We didn’t start well at all and Dunfermline dominated the opening ten minutes and overall we just didn’t do enough to compete. There are very few players who can be happy with their contribution today but to be fair it is very rare that we are as poor as we were today. It’s not often we are dominated the way we were today, particularly at McDiarmid Park"
The gaffer also revealed that Mad Mental Martin Hardie missed out through injury after suffering from a fever since Sunday night saying, " We had hoped to have him on the bench today but he contacted me this morning to say that he wasn’t well enough to travel. But there are no excuses – we should have had enough to make up for the absence of one player. You are looking for other players to step up to the mark of these occasions and nobody did."
August 16th - Andy
Jackson is hoping he's starting to show a return to the sort of form that saw him finish as top scorer last season. The Saints striker told the Courier, "I thought I played well against Livingston then I started against Stenhousemuir which, by my own standards, I know I wasn’t at my best, but the manager’s told me that he thinks I’m getting back to what I was.
I can feel it myself so hopefully it’s just a matter of time. I’ve set myself a target of 20-25 goals this season. I managed 19 last term and I feel stronger this year and know the game a bit more so I don’t see why I shouldn’t achieve that.". As for today, he's expecting a tough encounter. "They have loads of experienced players who have played at a higher level so they will be hard, but with the crowd behind us we’ll hopefully come out on top.
I scored away when we won 1-0. Two of the other games were goalless draws so that shows they are always close games.
Del is pretty confident though and the Saints boss told the paper, "Dunfermline still have the nucleus of the team that was in the SPL, players of real quality, and they’ve added to the squad which makes them better and they’ll be real challengers. We’ll give them the respect they’re due but we are at home and are confident."
6.30pm - Another bad day at the office saw us lose 3-0 to the Pars with what has to be about the worst performance of a Saints team since Del took over. There was simply bugger all for us to take from the game and all the slaggings that the players are no doubt going to receive online and in print over the next few days are thoroughly deserved. We simply were not good enough
One player unlikely to get his chance next week is Stephen Doris who this morning joined Montrose on loan for a month.
August 15th - First of all major apologies for the lack of updates since last Saturday but a combination of a graphics card failure and Dell incompetence meant I've been without my main machince since Sunday morning and have had to resort to the old clockwork model from the attic.
Anyway we've not really missed much. The draw for the 2nd round of the Co-op Cup was made on Monday afternoon and it's a quick rematch with the West Lothian Cosa Nostra as Saints head through to Livi for the tie on Tues 26th at 7.45pm. No doubt, Del and Tony Doc are already brushing up on some new colourful additions to their vocabulary for the match (just remember to watch out for the horse's head though)
Saturday's trialist Dan Smith is being given every opportunity to win a deal and he'll be training at McD all this week. The manager told the Official Site, "I thought he acquitted himself very well considering he had only trained with us for a couple of days. He is a free agent and did his pre-season training at Darlington and played a couple of friendlies for them but they have secured a left-back from somewhere else. Dan is one we had earmarked as a potential signing but I have been honest with him and explained that we have an offer in for another player. He can play a further two games as a trialist and he certainly did himself no harm on Saturday.”
There was more good news as well with the injury list starting to clear. Steven Anderson and Collin Samuel have trained this week and are in the squad for the Pars game tomorrow along with Liam Craig who returns from his spell on the naughty step. It's not all good news though and after training this week, Jody Morris(right) has damaged a hamstring and is looking at several more weeks on the sidelines.
Finally cCongratulations too to Euan McLean who is in the Scotland U-21 squad for next weeks game, while Andy Jackson is set to take on Austria with the Rep of Ireland U-21s.
Looking ahead to Saturday's home match against the Pars, Del reckons our home form will be important in any championship race. Jody and Sammy have both trained this week as has Ando but the latter is unlikely to be considered. Dan Smith will be in the squad for Saturday and be fielded as a trialist if need be.
August 9th - There will be some mystery in heading for Cappielow today with Saints set to field a trialist at left-back in place of the suspended Liam
Craig. Elsewhere in the side, Kevin Rutkiewicz is fit to start while Alan Main is expected to be on the bench. Steven
Morris and Collin Samuel have all been ruled out though. Meanwhile, Mad Mental Martin Hardie reckons the dodgy pre-season is paying off as things came together last weekend. He told the Courier, "Tony Doc and the gaffer made clear from day one of pre-season that everything we did would be geared to being ready for the first league game.
And pre-season was different this summer—a bit of an eye opener, to be honest.
Under previous managers we would run for miles and miles. This time we did a lot of new stuff, on the training pitch.
Against Ross County we did alright for an hour then just went.
But the most important thing for this club is winning the league and getting off to a good start was essential to that. Having got the result we were looking for though we have to move things on now.
I spoke to Allan earlier this week and he was saying Morton are adopting a more physical strategy. We’ll need to try and combat that and handle the conditions down there.
Cappielow is a very tight pitch. Most keepers can just about kick the ball to the opposition’s 18-yard box. And we have to take that on board.
The manager is expecting a tough game and Del told the paper, "It’s always difficult down there. They’re a good side. However, we drew there in the league last season and won there in the cup so we know what’s required to win. A good performance from everyone is essential"
8.30pm - Saints had to settle for a share of the points in a 2-2 draw at Cappielow. We twice took the lead through Savo and Gavin Swankie . But poor defending and a late equaliser let Voodoo-Boy Irons out of jail. Still, at least nobody was sent off. There was also another trialist at left-back - believed to be Dan Smith from Aberdeen and he didn't play too badly.
August 8th - The main question ahead of tomorrow's game is whether the manager will go for the Savo and Sherlock partnership up front. The latter told the Courier, "There’s going to be fierce competition here all season.
We’ve got five or six strikers—all of whom are capable of being in the side every single week.
So when you get the chance you have to take it.
You’ll need to ask the manager if I’ve done enough to stay in the team.
All I can do is make a case.
The goals at Stenhousemuir won’t have done me any harm, but it’s up to the gaffer.
I recognise that there will be games where he is going to be needing pace— others when he needs a target man up top.
We’ll have to wait and see what his thinking is for Saturday. It’s nice to be up and running though.
I’d been watching from the bench at Ochilview, seeing the kind of crosses coming in that I thrive on and thinking that if I got on I could stick one away.
There’s nothing worse from a striker’s point of view than games passing by and you’re not scoring.
And that’s especially true when you are new to a club and people are watching you wondering whether you’re a good signing or a bad one.
Hopefully having got off the mark I can go on to get a few more goals now
As for the gaffer, he said, "Strikers are judged on goals, and it is difficult to leave them out when they are scoring. But I also recognise the shift Andy Jackson and Peter MacDonald put in, and that on another night they’d have been amongst the goals too. Hamilton started with six wins last year and never looked back. Hopefully we can do something similar this time."
He also confirmed that the injured trio won't make the squad. As for the left back, another trialist arrived yesterday but a loan deal is also being pursued.
August 7th - It's been revealed that Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) was taken off at half-time at Ochilview due to a back injury and he's set to get extra physio this week to ensure he's available for the tip to Cappielow this weekend. Elsewhere and the latest is that the injured trio of Steven Anderson, Jody Morris and Collin Samuel only have an outside chance of making the game this weekend although Jody is the closest to making a return.
August 5th - The players head to Stenhousemuir tonight and Peter MacDonald is in line for his 200th Saints appearance. He's rubbished the notion that the tournament has a lesser priority and told the Courier, "Why not go for everything? The cup runs we have had have been brilliant. We would swap them all to win the league, though. But, we will try to get both this season. The boys who played on Saturday did well to get a win in our first league game of the season and the manager has said he will be putting out a strong team for tomorrow’s match. It was a great result against Livingston and I was happy to get on the scoresheet, but as long as we keep grinding out results I don’t care who scores."
Liam Craig is set to play tonight before sitting out the Morton game and despite the artificial surface, Derek McInnes will be putting out his strongest side. "Everybody who is fit will be involved. We’ll be playing our strongest team. When we played Montrose in pre-season we left a few players out because of the artificial pitch but that won’t be the case this time because this match is too important to rest players. The cup competitions have generated a lot of money for the club recently and a lot of enjoyment for the players and supporters. There’s no question that we want to progress to the latter rounds in the cups. They’ve been good to us and we want that to continue"
10.30pm - We left it late after going behind but four goals in the last ten minutes saw us run out 5-1 winners at Stenhousemuir, the goals coming from another Paul Sheerin penalty, Steven Milne, two from Derek Holmes and Martin Hardie.
August 4th - Paul Sheerin(right) was happy enough speaking to the papers after the weekend win. The Saints midfielder told the Courier, "There’s massive expectations now because the players we’ve brought to the club have enhanced our squad. And we were really disappointed with last week when we looked like we’d never played together. But we’ve worked hard on the training ground since Dingwall and it’s come together for us.And as we’ve struggled pre-season as a unit, leaking a lot of goals, it was good to get a clean sheet as well. You always worry when you lose a player that you’re going to get pushed deep and invite trouble on to you. But we dealt with the situation quite well. They’d a couple of efforts from long range but I don’t think they managed to create a real chance. It’s good to be up and running again with the penalties. I think I finished with a couple of pens against Livingston last season and it’s nice to get off the mark in the first league game."
The paper also confirms Liam Craig is suspended for the trip to Greenock next Saturday.
6.30pm - Some good news ahead of tomorrow's game with Steven Milne set to make a comeback. Despite the Ochilview artificial surface, it won't be used as an excuse to leave players out so Kevin James should also start although Collin Samuel seems set to miss out with his hamstring strain.
August 3rd - So much for the press conference fallout yesterday. Derek McInnes tried to dismiss it on the Official Site and he said, "I’m concerned if Landi has made an issue of it as it would be wrong to take the shine off a good win. I’ve had a coffee with him and he has apologised for not shaking my hand. I don’t think he liked us contesting some of the decisions but we gave them the respect they were due and won it fair and square. I make no apologies for my conduct – I’ve nothing to apologise for". As for the win itself he continued, "I’m delighted with the efforts of the players. I know we can play better but I thought we dug in well, particularly after going down to ten men. Kevin James and Martin Hardie brought a strength and presence to the side. We hardly had them available at all last season and they are so important to us."
August 2nd - The league starts today and if we're looking for omens then new signing Gavin
Swankie(right) might help - the last three seasons he's finished 4th, 3rd and 2nd with his previous employers. The winger told the Courier, "I never really thought about it. Hopefully, there’s an omen there, though I don’t really believe in them. I like to just take each game as it comes and I don’t see why we shouldn’t be top of the league at the end of the season. That’s all everyone’s motivation is—going to the SPL—and I do think we’ll do it. The manager has brought in some good players and there’s a confidence in the squad that we’ll get promotion. St Johnstone haven’t started well the past couple of years so hopefully we’ll put it right this year and get off to a flier. Dundee are going to be one of our major challengers but there are a lot of good teams in the first division. It’s not an easy league to get out of. No one would have tipped Hamilton last year so there could be another surprise team in there."
As for today's opponents, he went on, "Livingston are under new management and they’ve brought in several new players so we don’t really know what they’re like, but we’re all looking forward to it. We’ll just go out and play our game and hopefully that’ll be good enough. The main thing is getting the three points. We were disappointed at losing to Ross County last week and we don’t want to suffer two defeats on the bounce so we’re determined to get off to a better start in the league. Obviously, being at home’s a big advantage for us and we’ve got to make that count.I was disappointed not starting last week but that’s football, you just take it as it comes.If you don’t start then you just try to impress in training and push for that starting slot."
Del isn't using the injury list as an excuse and he told the paper, "Every club gets injuries and we’ll just get on with it. We’ve still got enough quality to get the right sort of result against Livingston. I’m disappointed with last week, but if it meant us getting off to a good start in the league then we’d sacrifice the Challenge Cup. We want to get our first three points on the board. We had a good record against Livingston last year, taking all 12 points against them and we want the same again this year. They’ve made a lot of changes but we’ve had them watched and they’re a good side. They like to pass and play the ball and they have a fair bit of experience at the back, but I still feel, if we’re right, we have a great opportunity to go and win the game. Last season we had too many draws and gave ourselves too much ground to make up so we want to get off to a good start and get the ball rolling and get a wee bit of momentum.". The club haven't ruled out getting a left-back in on loan ahead of kick-off but just now it looks unlikely.
6.30pm - We top the table tonight on goal difference thanks to a 2-0 win over Livi with goals from Peter MacDonald and a late Paul Sheerin penalty. Not the prettiest of games and soured by the red card shown to stand-in left-back Liam Craig in the second-half for a last-man challenge. There was added controversy in the post-match press conference apparently with the Livi Mafiosi complaining about the "bad language" from the Saints dugout - Welcome to Scotland boys!!!!
August 1st -Kevin James and Collin Samuel have both recovered from knocks and are available tomorrow. There's a rallying call from Derek McInnes(right) in the Courier today and the manager said, "Between having a few boys missing and not being able to sign a left-back, we don’t have our problems to seek. But I believe we still have a squad that can cope with what’s in front of us, which is why I haven’t gone down the road of bringing in trialists. It’s been a long summer and we are ready to go. I firmly believe we have a lot of talent here but I also want to see us playing with passion and determination this season. We have the firepower to get goals. The key for us will be keeping clean sheets. That’s something we haven’t done so far in the lead-up to the start of the league and it was disappointing to go out of the Challenge Cup last weekend. But if losing that tie works as a wake-up call, then I’ll live with that. We must, though, get off to a good start now."
As for the left-back situation, all the manager would say was that the target has been identified but they are no further forward in getting him in.
Top Of News
July 31st - While we're not sure who will be playing at left-back on Saturday, it does at least look like we'll have one addition to the squad for the Livi game with Kevin James set to be available after training all week. Savo, Steven Anderson and Kevin Moon are all still ruled out though.
July 30th - Still little in the way of real news coming out of McDiarmid this week. Leaving aside the tales of player X looking forward to the new campaign, the only thing of note is that Derek McInnes' attempt to sign his targeted left-back (believed to be a Scandanavian player) has "hit the buffers" with the Official Site now seemingly taking the line that a loan deal is more likely to take place to ensure we have someone to fill the no3 shirt at the weekend.
July 28th - More injury worries for Saints today. Jody Morris has been confirmed as requiring rest for his hamstring problem and will be out for two to three weeks. And just to add to the fun and games Steven
Anderson's knee injury needs further investigation and Savo has a groin strain which will see him out for 8-10 days meaning all three players will miss the league opener this weekend. That's a game that Derek McInnes is looking for a big improvement in after the weekend defeat and he spoke of the cup exit on the Official Site today, "It was a poor defence of the trophy. We had a lot of fans up there on Saturday and I know what it meant to them and the club to win the cup last season. We wanted to defend it but we didn’t. If, at the end of the season, we can look back and say that the defeat got the kind of reaction from the players that led to a successful league campaign then fine, I would sacrifice the Challenge Cup for the league. But at the moment, on the Monday morning, it hurts".
And there was more sad news today with the announcement that former Saints manager Paul Sturrock has been suffering from mild Parkinson's Disease for the last few years. The current Plymouth boss is hoping to control things with medication.
July 27th - Not much news on the injuries yesterday although neither is thought to be serious - there's little official news with the manager and players keeping their heads below the parapets after the shambles of the cup exit.
Elsewhere and there was sad news for the whole of Scottish football today with the announcement of the passing of Bob Crampsey after a long illness. One of the veterans of the punditry world, his was one of the few sensible voices to be heard on the radio in recent years and his presence will be sorely missed. Let's just hope the authorities are sensible enough to ensure all of football can remember him - a minutes' silence next weekend might be a fitting tribute.
July 26th - Derek McInnes was apparently planning to treat today's game as a rehearsal for the start of the league campaign but with the chance to retain the trophy he's changed his mind a bit. He told the Courier, "When I was planning our pre-season programme I was looking upon the Challenge Cup game as the last of them. In my head August 2 was the start of the season. But now that it’s come round, we really want to win this game and retain the trophy. We took a lot of pride in winning the Challenge Cup last season and we want to win it again, which we’ve got a real opportunity to do. Everybody involved with the club—supporters, staff and players—all enjoyed their day and it was fantastic to bring a trophy back to McDiarmid Park. There’s also the fact that we’re up against a team in our own league tomorrow. It will be a really tough match because they’ve had a very good pre- season. The draw couldn’t have been any tougher. I think Ross County are better equipped than they’ve ever been. We’ll need to play well to get through but I’m confident that we can do that."
The latest on the left-back situation is that Wednesday night's trialist won't be offered a deal (surprise, surprise) but that yet another player (no399 on a growing list) has been identified and the gaffer continued, "It probably hasn’t helped that we’ve had a different trialist at left-back for more or less every game. There will be no more trialists now. From now on we’ll go with what we’ve got until we rectify the left-back situation."- all of which means a possible left-back slot for Paul Sheerin today.
There's no other team news, Jody Morris, Collin Samuel and Steven Anderson all trained yesterday and two of them are expected to make the squad althougha lack of match fitness means they're unlikely to start.
10pm - First of all apologies for the late update but A9 traffic delays meant I'm just back. And it's a pity I bothered with the trip north as a woeful Saints performance saw us lose 2-1 to Ross County and end our participation and defence of the Challenge Cup. Collin Samuel got the late consolation for us but that was all it was and Derek McInnes was on the end of some fierce criticism from the stands mainly over the lack of a left-back (Liam Craig covering today). Add to that the sight of both Steven Anderson (knee) and Steven Milne (groin) limping off and it was what you'd call a bad day at the office.
July 25th - Derek McInnes(right) has told the Courier he's looking for a good start from Saints for the campaign tomorrow. Speaking in the paper, he said, "I think it is fair to say that we did not get going until it was too late last season. We are conscious of that and would like things to be different, although every manager will say he wants to get off to a good start. It just gets a bit demoralising if you are too far behind the leaders because you end up with no room for error in every game. That puts pressure on players and it makes it harder to be successful as a team. We had Hamilton setting the pace in the first division last time and they showed us all how to set the pace. There will be five or six teams in the division with the same goal as ourselves—promotion—while others will have a different aim. What I can say is that we will be fit and ready to mount a challenge. I am bringing in my own people and while we may have trimmed the squad a bit I feel we are leaner. I am confident that we have more options in every department and have been really pleased by the fitness levels."....still no word on a left-back though.
July 24th - Derek McInnes was happy enough with the performance if not the result last night. Speaking in the Courier, he said. "There were a lot of positives. We worked really hard against a good side and there were some very good individual performances. Burnley are in a different bracket to us in terms of wages and transfer fees they can pay but I thought that we made a very good team look ordinary. We’ve got a few more players to come back from injury and we’re looking forward to the weekend" As for the trialist (revealed to be 20yr old Paddy Boyle recently freed by Everton), the gaffer merely said "he did fine" - which is possibly more of a worry than anything else.
5pm - The date for the CIS draw at Stenhousemuir has been confirmed for Tuesday August 5th with a 7.30pm kick-off. Admission will be £12 for adults and six of your lovely quid for kids. Meanwhile only Collin Samuel and Steven Anderson seem to be in with a chance of playing on Saturday with the remaining casualties all but ruled out already.
July 23rd - Saints are taking no chances tonight according to the Courier and any player who is even slightly doubtful will miss out against Burnley. That means no Kevin James, Collin Samuel, Steven
Anderson or Kevin Moon tonight but even so Derek McInnes should be able to field a strong side. He told the Courier, "It’s a game we are really looking forward to. It will be good to see Owen back here in Perth, and ideally I would have liked to have been facing Burnley with a full squad to choose from. But, whatever team takes the field, we’ll be looking to do well in the game. Everything has been geared up to getting the season off to a good start".
Still no sign of a left-back though and despite a wee jaunt over to the continent to check someone out, the manager is no closer to getting someone in.
11pm - Saints completed their pre-season schedule tonight with a decent enough performance still not good enough as we lost 3-1 at home to Burnley, with Paul Sheerin scoring our goal. Another trialist at left-back and possibly one of the poorest trialist performances I've seen from a Saints player. On the plus side, at least the crowd was a good one and there were plenty of signs that the midfield and front men are starting to get their act together.
July 22nd - The left-back hunt continues this week with Derek McInnes going to see a player on Sunday and another trialist due at the club this week. Time is running out though ahead of the weekend opener with tomorrow's home match against Burnley the last game to get things sorted out. Collin Samuel(right) and Jody Morris are the latest to be carrying knocks but should make tomorrow's squad. Kevin James is another who should make it but Steven
Anderson is again expected to sit out.
Collin Samuel told the Courier he's out to get one over on his old mentor Owen Coyle. He said, "I obviously know Owen very well and I really got along with him when we were at Falkirk and United. My time at Falkirk was the first time I really made an impact in football—my big breakthrough—and I got a lot of help from Owen. We had a great time out on the pitch and he encouraged me to be positive in my play. I would agree that he played a crucial role in my development and learned a lot from him. His feet were like magnets the way the ball stuck to them and he was always in the right place at the right time to get goals, even during training. He was always there to pounce on a pass and, as he kept reminding everyone, he was the top scorer when we were at Falkirk. So it will be great to see him again but the most important thing for me is to play a match for St Johnstone and do well. My last game for Toronto was back in March 29 so that’s a while ago. This match will be a big test for me—as it will be for everybody in our team—but I want to beat Burnley and really start looking forward to the new season. I want to do well here and that means scoring goals to help the club get to the SPL."
5.30pm - The CIS draw has thrown up a nice away trip for Saints with the boys set to head for the delights of the Central Belt to take on Third Division Stenhousemuir with the tie set for either Tuesday 5th or Wednesday 6th August. Come on it's not that bad - I mean we're all over the last visit to Ochilview aren't we?
July 19th - Another bad day at the office for the Saints fans that made the trip north with the boys going down 4-2 at Caley Thistle. A fairly strong Saints side fielded the usual trialist at left-back. News is a wee bit sparse just now but Steven Milne got both our goalsl.
July 18th - Saints went down 4-0 to the Romanian side yesterday and while that was bad enough, it seems that the pre-season games are starting to get to the players as the injury toll mounts. Both Steven
Anderson and Kevin James(right) picked up knocks (the former within the first 5 minutes and the latter during the warmup). It contributed to the poor shape of the Saints side with Gary
Irvine at the back and Stephen Doris switching to full-back. Of the game, Derek McInnes told the Courier, "They were a very fit, strong team who are ahead in their preparation than us. They will play in the UEFA Cup this season. But even allowing for the injuries I’ve no complaints about the score. It was a really good work out for the players—a real step up from the previous games. That is just what I wanted at this stage of the pre-season."
No word yet about the trialists.
5.30pm - Well the update on the trialists is that the Frenchman has gone home, the German won't be signing (possibly because he is signing for Clyde) but yet another in the ever-growing string of left-backs has appeared at the club with a 20yr old set to play tomorrow after being released by his Premiership employers last season (though that could mean anything). Elsewhere and Alan Main is hopeful of resuming full training next week.
July 16th - We had another comfortable win as a pretty much reserve Saints side ran out 3-1 winners against E Stirling. Goals came from Steven Anderson, a Paul Sheerin spot kick and a late Peaso goal. There was a trialist at left-back, presumably of the French variety.
July 15th - Saints seem determined to squeeze in as many games as possible this week. The French left-back trialist will play against E Stirling tonight but the German defender won't get a runout until Thursday when Saints play another closed doors game against Romanian side Unirea Urziceni. The manager is happy how things have gone though and he said, "On the whole I’ve been really pleased with the way our build up has gone so far. Fitness-wise, we’ve done well. Now it’s a case of tightening up on finishing and shape".
Saints have announced details of the admission prices for next week's home pre-season friendly against Burnley. Kick-off is a 7.30pm next Wednesday and admission is pegged at a tenner for adults and a fiver for kids. Looks like only the West Stand will be open but the good news is that season tickets are valid.
July 14th - Despite making a reasonable impression with the fans on Saturday, Polish left-back David Topolski has gone home with any chance of further move discussions described by Derek McInnes as "not imminent" (which basically means nae chance unless we're stuck 24 hours before the season starts). So the hunt continues and two more Euro migrants will be arriving at the cosmopolitan surroundings of McDiarmid this week with a French left-back and a German defender set to get a runout against E Stirling tomorrow night and possibly at Inverness on Saturday.
Speaking on the Official Site, Derek McInnes said of the Montrose draw, "I was a bit disappointed not to win the game but there was a lot to be pleased about. We were a wee bit sloppy at times and there was a few instances of poor decision making but that is what these games are designed to highlight and sort out. We’ll be looking to tighten up on certain things ahead of the games against Inverness and Burnley"
July 13th - After yesterday's disappointing draw, the players have a quiet week until next Saturday's trip to Inverness. In the meantime, a new archive and nostalgia site has been set up at St Johnstone Fans of the World Unite, so head over there and start uploading some old pix and vids.
July 12th - That's the first pre-season game out of the way and it wasn't the prettiest of encounters today but Saints came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Montrose. Saints came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Montrose with the equaliser courtesy of a deflection from a cross from trialist David Topolski who did his chances of winning a deal no harm at all. Elsewhere there were good performances from new signings Gavin Swankie, Chris Millar, Collin Samuel and Stuart McCaffrey.
July 11th - Some more infor ahead of the game tomorrow. The left-back trialist is 23yr old David Topolski (a non-footie image can be found here), a former Polish U-21 cap who has played for Lech Poznan. He's set to line up tomorrow but given the artificial surface at the Montrose ground, Derek McInnes has already said he won't be risking players recovering from long-term injuries. That means that Martin Hardie, Kevin James and Steven Milne will all miss out. Alan Main and Kevin Moon are already set to miss out through injury.Report
July 10th - Last night's closed doors game saw Saints beat Hibs 3-1. Goals
came from Derek Holmes, Jody Morris and Andy Jackson. And there was
an added boost that the Polish left-back trialist apparently
impressed and is likely to get another run out on Saturday when
we go to Montrose.
And to add to the fun and games, the new home kit will be launched at Campus Sports at 2.30pm tomorrow as modelled on the right by Jody Morris and Chris Millar
July 8th - More from our new signing in the papers today and Derek Holmes told the Courier today, "I have been quite fortunate to taste success at so many of my clubs. I was just breaking through at Hearts when we won the Scottish Cup after going so long without a trophy, then I went on to win leagues with Ross County, Bournemouth and Carlisle twice.Even at Rotherham, we were going extremely well in second spot before the club went into administration and that took its toll on us all.It was just one of those things but I have definitely enjoyed more good times than bad. I loved it down in England and had eight great years there but I just feel it’s the right time to come back home.I have learned a lot, played under some good managers and believe I am now a better person and player than when I first went down south.Hopefully, I can now repeat some of the success I have had at those other clubs at St Johnstone.I would not have come here if I did not think that we could win the league.The set-up is terrific and we have the squad, so I am looking forward to the start of the new campaign."
As for his role in the Saints side, he went on, "People say I am a target man but I am also quite a decent finisher so hopefully I can add something to what is already a good squad.I was training with the lads down in England last week and saw the standard of player that we have here.So I know that we have a chance of promotion and we should be looking to get off to a good start because that builds confidence."
Meanwhile, as well as a Polish left-back appearing for the club in a closed-doors game against Hibs tomorrow, Saints will also give a runout to an English midfielder.
July 7th - Reports in the papers this morning say that there's going to be an early press conference at McDiarmid today with Derek Holmes set to sign. More later no doubt. And there's also plenty of praise for the club after the excellent Elton John concert at the ground went off without a hitch (with even a certain chairman seen up dancing in the West Stand at one point).
5pm - Well as anticipate Derek Holmes(right) joined Saints on a 1yr deal today. Derek McInnes told the Official site, "I feel that we had the best strikers in the division already but what we didn’t have was anyone with a physical presence. All our strikers bring different qualities to the team whether it is pace or movement or natural finishing but Derek will give us something which is just a wee variation on that. I felt we lacked a big presence at the start of last season when Owen was still here and then you saw the difference that Kenny Deuchar made during his time at the club and I had hoped that Daniel McBreen would do something similar but he was troubled by injury. In Derek we have someone in their mould – maybe not as mobile as the other guys here but a player with a great first touch and a proven goal scorer"
The new signing got off to a good start with a goal in the 2-1 win over Ayr at the weekend with David Weatherston notching the other.
Derek McInnes went on, "Other than left-back, we have real competition in all areas of the team now. I’ve had to trim my working squad down from 24 to 20 but all 20 are guys who will expect to be playing and will be unhappy if they are not and that’s what I need. There are no ‘fringe players’ now". On the subject of the missing link, a Polish left-back is over for trial this week and could feature in the closed doors game against Hibs.
July 4th -Saints returned from their pre-season training on Wednesday but the Spanish trialist will not be joining us with Derek McInnes using the age-old "He's not quite what we're looking for" reasoning. However, Derek Holmes is still with the boys and is likely to take part in the first closed doors game tomorrow against Ayr with the club reportedly finalising a deal for the striker.
July 1st - Early reports from the training camp are optimistic with Jody Morris and Martin Hardie both looking sharp. Derek McInnes said in the Courier, "We could not have hoped for better. The lads have appreciated how good the facilities are.". One trialist with the lads just now is ex-Jambos striker Derek Holmes and the paper also reports that the club are closing in on the player. Meanwhile there are also rumours that we might be trying to sign another midfielder.
Finally, the Official Saints Site is being relaunched today at it's new home.
Top Of News
June 26th - Confirmation that three new faces will be heading south with Saints tomorrow for the training camp at Wolverhampton. As well as striker Derek Holmes, Saints will have goalkeeper Greg Kelly, a 29yr old freed by Aberdeen and also a Spanish left-back. The latter has come recommended to the club by Goran Stanic which is always a good sign.
June 25th -Saints are set to head south tomorrow for their pre-season training camp and the transfer rumours have begun. With Derek McInnes looking to get some goalkeeping cover on board, the Courier today has us linked with ex-Jambos striker Derek Holmes. The 29yr old was at Rotherham last season and banged in 11 goals in 34 games. At 6'2" he also possibly fits the requirements we'd be looking for in a target man and despite having a year on his contract, the English club are in administration so he should be available. No word on any left-back though which is more of a worry to Saints fans.
June 21st - Not much to report from the papers today although Derek McInnes is apparently talking about getting in a stand-in goalie for pre-season on a short-term deal as cover for Euan
McLean. The Saints manager told the Courier, "Clearly we’ll need another keeper to cover us for pre- season and the possibility that Alan won’t be fit for the start of the season. We’re looking into the possibility of either getting someone who is unattached and might welcome the opportunity to put himself in the shop window or fixing up a short term loan."
Meanwhile for those of you still wondering what has happened to the We Are Perth forum, they're apparently suffering problems with their hosting service but are hoping to be back online in a week or so.
June 20th - It never rains but it pours and the bad news coming out of the Saints camp today is that Alan Main(right) will miss the pre-season games and the start of the coming campaign. The Saints keeper has been suffering from a shoulder injury and believed that rest over the summer would sort it out. Unfortunately a specialist disagreed (and they know better) with the result that the keeper has to undergo surgery. That means he'll miss the pre-season training (the boys get together next Thursday before heading to Wolverhampton for a week) and the friendlies giving new signing Euan
McLean a chance to earn his place in the team for the league campaign.
Alan Main told the Official Saints site," I was troubled with my shoulder towards the end of last season and I still don’t know what caused it. There was no specific knock or noticeable collision, I just started to get a wee nipping feeling in the shoulder which we thought would be cleared up with a couple of injections. I went down to the specialist last week just for him to have a look at it and having examined it he then announced that I needed an operation and what’s more the operation would take place there and then! It came as a bit of a shock – I hadn’t planned on having the night in hospital - but it was better to get it done immediately so that I have the most time possible to get fit again. I didn’t want this to happen and it is not the start to the new season I wanted but it is clear that another injection would have just masked the problem. This way, the op is done and I have set my self targets for getting back as early as possible into the campaign. It is important to me that I play a part in anything that can be achieved this season."
The manager is looking forward to the trip away and he told the website, "It will be an ideal chance for the new players to become part of the squad. We won’t play any games down there – it will be all about hard work on fitness and on the training ground. I think the players will benefit from that and it will also mean that they won’t have to be travelling every day from their homes to McDiarmid Park. I’ll be looking to vary the training routine and indeed where the training takes place a lot this season as it is important that the players don’t get stale"
And one other piece of excitement to look forward to next weekend is the launch of a new-look Official Saints Site.
June 19th - With the new season less than 4 weeks away (come on we're all going to Montrose aren't we?), I've finally managed to get the old finger out and for all those of you on tenterhooks, the 2008 TOSSAs are finally out. Elsewhere and in anticipation of the forthcoming crap from your favourite media outlets, I've also set up the Media Falsehoods page for the coming season.
June 16th - Time to start planning the journeys for next season with the Fixture list for 2008-09 announced today. Of course due to the wonders of bureaucracy I can't show them beyond the first game but I can confirm we open with a home game against Livingston on August 2nd. The full list, as always is at the Official Saints Site. One interesting point is that the 3rd round and semi-finals of the Challenge Cup have been scheduled for the Sundays of the international weekends, which should hopefully boost attendances.
June 12th - Geoff Brown is continuing his pre-match series of interviews in the Courier today. The topic was Derek McInnes and the chairman told the paper, "Two managers ago I got pulled into the belief that this guy who was a hero before as a player and had a reasonable track record as a manager might have been the answer. And we came unstuck. So when we had to appoint a replacement for Owen Coyle it was a major consideration for the whole board. There was nothing broken because Owen had done a good job. But it was still imperative that we made the decision right. When there’s a managerial vacancy to fill you look out into that big bad world and find that the guys likely to be available to do the job are guys who have failed somewhere else. And we were sitting there thinking ‘We’re not looking for failure, we want success.’. Now to have success you have to have knowledge of what’s happening in your league and the contacts that’ll lead you to the players who will improve your team. And Del fitted that bill. We were also struck by the fact that compared to what he’d been earning at Dundee United as a player he was probably on less than a quarter with us. This isn’t a guy who was prepared to sit tight at Tannadice picking up the money he was entitled to. He wanted to get on with his career. Speaking to everyone who knew him, directly or indirectly, it was clear he’s a shrewd guy. And we found ourselves asking, ‘Why not give him the chance?’People talked about it being a gamble. But I’d about 30 other people wanting the job all of whom would have been a gamble. And in our opinion appointing Derek wasn’t the cheap option as some claimed—it was the least of all the gambles we might have taken."
And it's been an impressive first season as the chairman continued, "The way Derek conducts himself around the club, the way he goes about his business, some of the decisions he’s made... he’ll do for me"
Elsewhere the majority of the squad have been back at the club this week for their customary two days fitness assessment at Dundee University (playing dodge the junkie no doubt), with the only absentees the players still on holiday.
June 10th - Geoff Brown(right) is in the papers today talking about the hopes for the coming season. The Saints chairman told the Courier that the wage bill for this season has risen as we try to escape the league and said, "There's no question this is going to cost us more money. But we've been fortunate that two years ago we made two semi-finals and last year we made another. Those helped finance the extra money we'll be paying out on wages. What we've done was decided before we'd actually fallen out of the promotion race last season.We''d a meeting with Tony
Docherty and Derek McInnes and asked them to identify who they wanted for next season. Needless to say they came up with quite a long list. But we've been fairly successful in getting the real targets, the guys at the top of that list. I'd like to think we’ve made a determined effort to win promotion every year since we dropped out of the Premier League. But this time there's been a particular direction taken with signings. We made it clear to Derek that we didn't want to sign fringe players. We wanted people he'll be happy putting into his team, not guys who are only going to make up the numbers in the event of injuries and suspensions. I#d go as far as to say that at pretty much every club every year signings are made to make up the numbers. We wanted to get away from that. Better to spend more money on people who’ll be playing than less money on those who'll be sitting in the stand."
There's no guarantee this will pay off and he went on, "If I could guarantee that what we are doing will end in promotion I'd send you along to the bookies to put a good bet on. But nothing is guaranteed in this game. The problem is that planning in football can be affected by so many variables. With my construction company I could draw up a business plan, determining a target turnover figure and the number of sales etc you'd need to achieve that. And in general terms that would work quite well. But you can have a business plan laid out for a football club—then a guy misses a penalty and that has an incredible impact. The penalty miss at Hampden cost St Johnstone £1 million. One miss and £1 million is gone. Derek McInnes' penalty miss at Partick Thistle in the CIS Cup cost us another run of money. And you cannot legislate for that. Okay you might not base a business plan on getting to the cup final. But a £1 million nest egg would have set us up nicely. Queen of the South will be challenging for promotion next season because of the money they made from getting to the final and qualifying for Europe."
There's not much else happening but the SFL have confirmed the fixture lists (including the yet-to-be-finalised Club X to replace Gr£tna) will be out next Monday.
June 7th - There's not much happening still with Saints not set to start their pre-season planning till next week. One former player on the move though is ex-striker Dyron
Daal who has just put pen to paper on a 1-year deal with Ross County - well it'll liven up the Challenge Cup if nothing else.
And yes I know the TOSSAs are still ongoing but I'm hoping to get the results out this week - sunny weather and Vista permitting.
June 2nd - First up big apologies for the lack of updates recently but I've been getting to grips with a new PC (took ages to come thanks to some crap Dell couriers) and the wondrous delights of Vista. Add to that some other stuff going, it means that the TOSSA Voting won't be fully analysed and rejigged until at least the end of the week.
With that in mind, there's not been too much happening in Saintee-land. The draw for the first round of the Challenge Cup was made last week with Saints heading north on July 26th to take on Ross County (well we know how much we like playing them in the cups).
Elsewhere and spare a moment's silence for dear ole Gr£tna as the end of the nightmare draws closer. Dumped straight down into the 3rd Division (and forcing us to enjoy 2 trips to the Scottish Beirut known as Airdrie next season), their latest sugar daddy has backed out and according to their administrator they've ceased to exist - just like the Pythons' parrot (that was a farce as well). Expect the final nail and expulsion from the SFL back to where they belong without Brooke's millions in the next few days. And no Mr Gr£tna chairman we aren't going to show one iota of sympathy for you.
Top Of News
May 26th - Still not much happening at the club. One ex-player in the news was Allan McManus who has signed for Morton.
May 22nd - Not too much happening for Saints just now but there is an interesting piece in the Courier today about Stirling left-back Steven Bell who has just signed for the Pars. Apparently the player was ready to move to Saints earlier in the year but when the Pars came in he was more impressed by their stadium and "got a good feeling unlike at Perth"- mind you he also thinks the Pars have a better chance of promotion because they were more recently in the SPL so perhaps we should pity his lack of brain cells more than anything else.
May 18th - Just a quick reminder that the window for TOSSA Voting for 2008 will be closing in around a couple of weeks time to allow the Temple computer to interpret the online scribblings and work out some results before we all forget how wonderful last season was.
May 15th - Saints got a new keeper today with Dundee Utd goalie Euan McLean(right) signing a new 2yr contract as a replacement for Kevin Cuthbert. Tony Docherty was doing the PR again and told the Official Site, "Euan was on the books at Tannadice for four out of the five years I was at United and he was in my Under 19 team. He has a real presence about him, is an excellent cross-taker and it at the stage of his career where he needs to be playing first team football. He is hungry for success but knows he will have to fight hard to displace Alan Main. We want to have two very capable goalkeepers fighting for the one jersey and Euan fits the bill for that. He has a great attitude and will benefit from training with Alan who has impressed both Derek and I as a coach and leader"
May 14th - Saints have confirmed the pre-season friendlies for the coming campaign. After closed-doors games against Ayr and Hibs, Del will take his men on the road for a couple of games with a 3pm trip to take on Jim Weir's Montrose side on Saturday July 12th folllowed by a journey up the A9 a week later to play Caley Thistle. The trio of games will be rounded off on the night of Wednesday July 23rd with a 7.30pm kick-off against Owen Coyle's Burnley. And three days after that it's the first round of the Challenge Cup. Who says it's still ages away?
May 13th - More on yesterday's
signing and Jody Morris(right) told the
Courier today, "Everything has felt right since I came here.
Derek was a good friend and working for him and Doc has been great. There
are also a great bunch of lads here and everyone has made me feel very
welcome. There were another couple of offers on the table and some
interest which wasnt concrete. But this just feels right to me. Ive
never lost my appetite for the game despite some low points in the last
two years. But I have enjoyed a fresh start in Scotland and its been
great to have nice things written about me in the press. Down south there
were pre-conceptions about me which always seemed to influence peoples
views. Up here I am judged on what I do on the park and thats been
appreciated. Football wise, this is the perfect place for me to kick on
and it is also the right move for my wife and family."
"When I told the missus that I wanted to sign for Saints and to move the family to Scotland the only question she asked was how good the schools up here were. Once Id found out there were no problems on that score it was a case of decision made. My aim now is to make up for my penalty miss in the Scottish Cup semi-final by helping St Johnstone to promotion. That memory from Hampden will never leave me. I felt I let people down. But promotion would go some way to making amends. "
12th - Derek McInnes may be on
holiday but the wheeling and dealing didn't stop today with Jody Morris(right) putting pen to paper
on a 2yr deal this morning. Tony Docherty did the PR-spiel and told the Official Site, "This is a massive
signing for the club and all credit for it goes to the manager who has had
a big influence on Jody. The player's friendship with and loyalty to Derek
has played a big part in making this happen but Jody will tell you himself
that he is very impressed with the club and the staff who have made him
feel welcome. Jody hasn't made this decision lightly - he has a wife and
two kids who he will bring to Scotland - but I know that he is looking
forward to getting a pre-season under his belt and making a big
contribution to Saints. He will be a big help to some of the younger
players such as Andy Jackson, Gary Irvine and Liam Craig."
As for the gaffer's relaxing break in Florida, the assistant went on, "It's only 5am across there but he's already been on the phone a couple of times this morning wanting to know that the signing has gone through and he is delighted that it has." . Derek McInnes echoed that later on saying, "Im delighted this has been sorted out. I was always hopeful that Jody would enjoy his football at Saints but if Im honest I thought it was unlikely that I would get to keep him beyond the end of last season. However, I think he has been impressed with the set up here and he has certainly had a big influence on the lads at the club. Make no mistake, Jody is not playing at this. He is bringing his wife and two kids up to Scotland to live and taking his eldest daughter out of her current school down south to come to Saints. His attitude is second to none and he has influence and respect amongst his colleagues. He has worked with some great professionals himself over the years and he will be an asset to me in sending the right messages to the younger players at the club. However, his influence on the field of play is the key to what he can bring to St Johnstone Football Club. I think we saw that from the very first moments of his Saints career when he made his debut as a substitute at Dens Park and was immediately barking instructions to his team mates. We already have a few leaders at the club and Jody is a very welcome addition to that."
And just to add spice to the signing, Jody was pictured with the new home kit which sees a welcome return to a predominantly blue shirt.
May 8th - Little in the papers
today. It's not been officially confirmed by Saints but it looks like
we're set for a home friendly against Burnley on Wednesday
July 23rd as part of Owen Coyle's sides Scottish tour.
There are some ex-players on the move. Bobby Barr looks set to line up a club quickly with Brechin and Dumbarton after his signature, while Mark Ferry has quit Queen's Park to move to Raith Rovers on a 2-yr deal.
6th - Paul Sheerin(right) is in
the Courier today talking about his new Saints deal. And while coaching
the u-17s will be a big part, the midfielder aims to keep playing as long
as possible. "The coaching thing is something I enjoy, something
Im quite passionate about. Ive enjoyed helping the under-19s
and look forward to taking the under 17s. But while the opportunity
to develop my coaching was a big factor in the decision to re-sign,
playing remains my number one priority. Once my career is over I want to
get into coaching but I feel Ive another two or three years left in
me. I was never the quickest player so its not as if Ive pace
to lose. Theres going to be a lot of competition for places in the
middle of the park next season but that can only be healthy for the club.
And Ive never shied away from competition. Ive found myself
having to battle for a place a couple of times before at St Johnstone and
managed to keep myself in the team. Making 167 starts in four seasons is
not a bad record and I hope to continue that. Im also on 99 career
goals so the aim is to reach the century next season. And it would be nice
to hit that mark with a goal from open play. I scored all those pens this
season but its almost an entire season since I got one from open
"Theres always doubt about whether you are going to get offered a new deal until it actually happens. When a new manager comes in with new ideas and you are that bid older you cant be sure at all. However things have worked out as Id hoped and the aim now is to take that next step with Saints. Next season will be my fifth at St Johnstone. When I came here I fully expected to play in the SPL with them. Its disappointing still to be waiting to fulfil that ambition. As a group of players I feel we are equipped to deal with the Premier League. Its just managing to get out of the first division that were finding difficult. But if we can show that bit better consistency next season then it could be our year. ". And he couldn't help having a dig at the fans and cynics of the new manager. "When Derek McInnes was appointed manager there were cynics amongst the supporters who questioned the appointment saying St Johnstone had taken the cheap option. But then there was a cynicism over him as a player as well which I found hard to believe. The chairman went for the gaffer because of his experience in the game and his thorough professionalism. Derek McInnes has picked up a lot of points, football and lifestyle wise, from the clubs he has been at is implementing them here to good effect. "
Meanwhile there are still plenty of signing rumours going on. Jody Morris is still in with a chance of signing a new deal with Saints and it's believed that the manager is chasing a striker's signature this week - believed to be ex-Hibs and Scumdee loan Mickael Antoine-Curier.
One departee who could line up against us next year is Allan McManus who its believed is being courted by Scumdee.
5pm- So much for the rumour mill. Saints did sign a striker today but the surprise move (or perhaps not so) saw us sign former Falkirk and Arabs striker Collin Samuel on a 2-year contract. The 26-yr old has been out in Canada plying his trade with Toronto FC but recently had a spell training with Saints. Del is happy with his new signing though and told the Official Site, "Colin has been enjoying his time in Toronto but his wife and family have been back here in Scotland and that has not been ideal and he has been keen to return to them. When I found that out, I spoke with Mo Johnston who is the Director of Soccer at Toronto and moved quickly to bring him to Saints.". Of course he trained here earlier in the season during the winter and the manager went on, "I had six weeks to look at Collin and I think he is a more complete player than he was earlier in his career. I was keen to keep him here but he was contracted to the MLS and had to go back but he has since indicated to them that he wanted to come back to Scotland to be with his family. He knows me, he knows Tony Docherty, he knows a lot of the players from his time training here and he knows the First Division - I think that will make him a great acquisition and he is still at the age where he can kick on and play at the level I think he can reach." The gaffer wants to avoid comparisons with Jason Scotland though. "They are different types of players. Sammy has pace and works hard and although nobody could argue with Jason's scoring rate, he didn't necessarily have the same attributes."
That won't be the end of the signings though with the manager still looking for another striker with a bit more physical presence. And there is still a goalkeeping and left-back vacancy to fill. As for the Jody Morris soap opera, nothing more is expected on that before the end of the week.
May 3rd - With the season now over for a week and the boys all away enjoying their well-earned summer holidays, it's time to reflect on the last year and send in your nominations for the 2008 TOSSAs. Voting can be done by theonline form or if you want, you can just e-mail this text file with your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Results will be announced when I can be bothered - probably in about 6 weeks or so.
2nd - Chris Millar(right) has
spoken of the last-ditch attempt to try and keep him at Morton. The
Cappielow side offered him a new deal believed to be around double what
he's getting at Saints but the midfielder told the Courier, "The
offer Morton came in with at the last minute was fantastic and I had to
think about it. But I had decided to come here for football reasons and,
while the extra money would have been nice, Im about trying to
better my career, which in joining St Johnstone I think Im going to
do. Emotionally it was difficult to leave Morton and with my having a
ten-month-old daughter and getting married this summer the financial
aspect was a consideration. But I think St Johnstone are going to go win
promotion to the SPL next season and thats why Ive come here.
Its been a strange last few months. I was out of the Morton team for
ten games after they found out Id signed a pre- contract with St
Johnstone. And I thought I would end up at McDiarmid Park during the
window when the clubs were negotiating to do a deal then. But it didnt
happen and, looking back, the whole thing turned into a bit of a saga. I
read that the last player to break a pre-contract was Luis Figo. And I was
thinking, Me and Figo in the same breathunbelievable.
The last couple of days have been tough especially as Id people in
my family telling me to take the money at Morton. But this is a club going
places and the way Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty have dealt with me
tells me Ive made the right choice. Derek was really understanding
of the situation I was in. Hes been different class from start to
Gavin Swankie was just as positive and told the paper, "Everything you hear at St Johnstone from the manager and staff is positive. And Im really looking forward to working under Derek McInnes. He seems a manager who gives people a lot of encouragement, and thats how you get the best out of players. St Johnstone approached me about a month ago but it wasnt until this week that everything was agreed. I got offered a new deal at Dundee but wanted a change. This is a big club which hopefully will be fighting for promotion next year and Im excited to be here. I heard on the grapevine that Morton were also interested in signing me but heard nothing directly and anyway this is where I wanted to be. I had talks with Owen Coyle about coming here three years ago, just before I signed for Dundee. I dont think I made the wrong decision then. But times change and hopefully this is the right decision again. Ive scored a few goals against Saints. Hopefully Ill now score a few for them. And itll be good to be on the same team as Martin Hardie instead of having him kicking me "
We're still in talks with Jody Morris but the manager said "Im looking to bring in another three players."
1st - Good news first of all with Andy
Jackson(right) leaving hospitaly yesterday after recovering from
what has been described as a stomach virus. The player is at home
recuperating but should be fine for pre-season. All the players have been
called into McD today by Del for a
final meeting before the close season. It's expected the club will
announce which players are being released.
There's added confusion over the pre-contract agreement with Morton's Chris Millar. The midfielder is supposed to be signing for Saints on June 1st but is said to be having a change of heart and wants to remain in Greenock (surely a case for diminished responsibility there). Morton, who kept on bumping up the price in order to hold onto the player in January are reported to be offering the player a big wage hike to break the deal with Saints. While pre-contract deals aren't written in stone, there haven't been any cases of players backing down in recent seasons and this could set a nasty precedent. Either way, it's believed the manager has set a deadline of today for the player to commit to Saints.
11am - Right the list of changes has been announced on the Official Site. Chris Millar andGavin Swankie have both joined (despite Davie Irons attempts to keep on and sign the other). They've been awarded 2yr deals. Elsewhere and Paul Sheerin has signed a new 1yr contract which will also see him take charge of the Saints U-17 side as he gets his coaching badges. And Stephen Doris - currently on loan at Montrose - has been offered a 1yr contract.
In terms of departures there are no major surprises. Goran Stanic, Jamie McCluskey and Allan McManus we already knew about. They've been joined byAndy Lawrie who hardly made an appearance this season and long-serving keeper Kevin Cuthbert. Also on the way out are youngster Bobby Barr (which is a bit of a surprise) and Daniel McBreen who has been deemed not worthy of a permanent deal.
6pm - More players released today with some of the youth players all told they can leave the club. So it's farewell to Gordon O'Brien, Adam Monaghan, Johnathon Fairbairn and Darren Wilcox. Stephen Doris has signed his 1yr contract though and Stephen Kerr has signed a 6-month contract.
As for his new signings, Del told the Official Site, "I am delighted to get both players tied up so soon after the end of the season. I know there has been speculation about both players coming here stretching out over a number of weeks and it is good to have it done and dusted. They are both talented players who are at a good age and want to see them maximise their potential at this club. Ill have a squad of 18 or 19 here next season and I want them all to be expecting to be playing. Gavin will give us natural width which is something I think we have struggled with this season and in Chris Millar I have signed a player I know plenty about. He is a fit, driven, energetic individual whose attitude is exactly what I want around here. Although we had him on a pre-contract, Morton made him a fantastic offer to stay which is their right and I think it speaks volumes for him that despite the fact that Cappielow is only five minutes from his home and that he has a lot of ties with Morton, that he thinks that St Johnstone is the right club for him to develop further at. I really feel that the confidence that each party has put in each other will be repaid I firmly believe that these players will enhance our promotion chances and that they will become better players as a result of being at this club."
Top Of News
April 30th - Confirmation today
that Goran Stanic has joined East Fife
signing a 2 year contract with the newly-promoted 2nd Division side. No
doubt he'll do well in the 2nd Division and best wishes to our favourite
Macedonian for the future. The other departures and frees are apparently
set to be announced tomorrow along with some contract news with
Jody Morris rumoured to be set to
extend his stay with Saints.
No more updates on Andy Jackson although Tay FM was apparently reporting last night that the striker was set to possibly be released from hospital today.
Elsewhere and the SFL have confirmed that a decision about Gr£tna or their possible replacements will be made by the start of July which is possibly just as well with the new season set to start on Saturday July 26th with the first round of the Challenge Cup.
29th - Del is in the Courier
today talking about completing the signing of
Stuart McCaffrey(right). "Its
been a frustrating time for Stuart and myself because he was brought here
to play and injury prevented him from doing that. But I still think the
signing paid dividends in that his arrival at the club made others play
better. Its disappointing only to have had a game-and-a-half out of
him so far but hes worked hard with the physio and is back running
now. Stuart is a very good user of the ball and hell be an asset to
Paul Sheerin is expected to give an answer in the next 48 hours over the offer of a 1yr deal and the manager went on, "Weve offered Paul a further year during which he would also work as a youth coach. Hes been taking the under 19s since I became manager and has a good way with kids. The idea would be for him to combine playing with overseeing our under 17s next season."
He also talked about the preparation for next season and the plans are underway for pre-season. "I want to go away for a week right at the start of pre-season and well be finalising that this week. The plan is to go down south and concentrate purely on training. There wont be any games. Its vital to get the work done in pre-season and I have a lot of boys who travel from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Rather than have them spending three hours a day travelling in a car, well get away so we can focus all our time and energy on training, putting in three sessions a day. Well have them in here for a couple of days thenif things work outwell be off to Wolverhampton University where I trained when I was at West Brom before they got their own training facilities. And weve got the use of a pitch at West Broms training ground which has since been built adjacent to the university. We dont want to leave anything to chance as far as preparations are concerned. The last three seasons St Johnstone havent made the best of starts. Next year we want to be Hamilton, the team that sets the standard from the off and is up there to be shot at. I believe I have the players to handle the pressure of leading. Its just about ensuring we get there. We must start well and Im setting up pre-season in a way thatll hopefully ensure we do that and then go on to handle whatever the rest of the campaign brings. ". There is a chance of a home game this year as well with Burnley possibly coming to McDiarmid for a visit.
28th - Not much by way of a post-mortem from Saturday's final game.
Savo was glad to finish the week on a
high with two goals. He said in the Courier, "Its been a
tough week. To go from the low of losing at Hampden on penalties to have
to play Stirling Albion in midweek was hard for the boys and hard for me
personally, to be honest. On Wednesday, playing a game was the last thing
on my mind. It was the first time Ive really felt like that. I felt
drained and didnt really want to think about playing. I was very
low. I probably wasnt fit enough to play against Livingston because
of a hamstring strain which was affecting my sprinting, but there was
nobody else available really. Im glad I did now, though. Ive
been playing deeper and I hadnt been scoring regularly lately so it
was great to get those two goals and for the team to get a victory. Now were
all looking forward to next season and getting off to a good start, which
we havent managed to do in the last two seasons. "
For his part, Del singled out Kevin Moon and David Weatherston for their parts in the win. But he wasn't too happy about the defence and said "There was a vulnerability about us and we conceded two soft goals. Thats the side of things well need to improve on if were to win the title next season."
In terms of rumours and departures, the latest is that Daniel McBreen has apparently been offered a one-year deal. Goran Stanic(right) looks set to leave with East Fife believed to be his next destination. And Utd keeper Euan McLean is being lined up for a summer move to Saints.
2.30pm - Latest news is that Stuart McCaffrey formally signed a 2-yr contract today after his loan spell. Meanwhile there's not much more to report on Andy Jackson. The Saints striker is still in hospital, after moving from Stirling to Falkirk Royal Infirmary on Friday and is set to see a couple of specialists this week.
26th - It's the last game of the season today and Saints go into it
boosted by the news that Kevin Moon(right)
has joined the ranks of those signing new deals with a 1yr deal for next
year. Del has high hopes for him and
told the Courier, "I liked Kevin from the very first training
session I had here, when I was impressed with his energy and attitude, and
I still feel the same. Hes got a great chance of having a really
good career in the game and Im delighted hes staying with us.
Weve signed Liam Craig and
Martin Hardie has extended his
contract. Theres also Chris Millar coming from Morton and hopefully
Jody Morris and
Paul Sheerin will sign new deals. So
the challenge is there for him to force his way into the team, but if he
gets better at certain things weve identified then he has a great
chance. I know that hes delighted to stay, as hes a St
Johnstone supporter, and I think its really important to have a
couple of people at McDiarmid Park like that who have real affinity for
the club. "
As for today's game, the manager wants to end the season on a high and said, "Im desperate for us to win this match because we dont want the season to just peter out. I feel like we owe it to the supporterswho were great at Hampden on Sundayto send them away after our last game of the campaign with a win. Its a shame for Kevin James because we felt he needed games at the end of the season. The one saving grace is that hell be available at the start of next season. ". With Kevin James suspended, both Allan McManus and Kevin Rutkiewicz are in the squad.
Andy Jackson seems to have suffered a nerve injury to his back and Del continued, "They think its a nerve in his back. It was a real worry because he was in agony at the time and was screaming in the ambulance with the slightest bump it made.". And he also spoke out about the decision to free Allan McManus after the player had a go at the chairman during the week. "In an ideal world I would have liked to have kept him but that wasnt possible. Kevin Rutkiewicz and Allan were out of contract and I had to make the choice. Kevin has been my best player since I took the job so I made that decision. It was my decision, not the chairmans.". Paul Sheerin has been offered a 1-year deal.
6.30pm - So much for the tame end-of-season affair as Saints clinched third place with an excellent5-2 win over Livingston the goals coming from Kevin Moon(right), two penalties courtesy of Paul Sheerin and a couple of lovely finishes from Savo. Elsewhere Morton clinched survival and sent Clyde into the play-offs by a single goal.
25th - Andy Jackson spent a
second night in hospital last night after an inconclusive CAT scan.
Del said in the Courier, "He
will be kept in overnight at Stirling and be moved to Falkirk Royal
Infirmary tomorrow for a further scan. This will hopefully give us a
better idea of what is wrong with him. We were very concerned about Andy
during the game on Wednesday. He came off complaining about pins and
needles and that quickly developed into numbness and then severe pain. He
was better today but we just want to get to the bottom of what is wrong
with him. "
Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) agreed a 2-year deal to stay at Saints yesterday. The manager said, "Kevin has been great for me. Hes had his injury problems, and the start of the season was a bit stop-start for him as he struggled with his fitness, but arguably he has been our best performer over recent months. Kevin is the right type a great lad to have in the dressing room, someone with real leadership qualitiesa winner who cares. Hes also quick, strong, good in the air and in the tackle and organises things. He has a lot going for him, and I can only see him getting better the more games he plays now and the fitter he gets. "
The player himself was happy to tie up his future. He commented, "It was an easy decision for me because I like everything about the club and everyone about the place. When the gaffer took over from Owen Coyle he asked if I wanted to stay, but at that point I felt I should concentrate on staying fit and staying in the team, so we put things on hold, but Im glad to now join the other lads in re-signing. I believe we have the nucleus of a very good squad here, and its great that it looks like being retained with big hitters committing themselves to the club. A lot of other teams are facing turmoil, but we should have continuity over the summer. ". The defender is hoping to see someone else pledge his future to the club as well. "Jody oozes class and keeping him would be something special. I know he is keen to stay, so hopefully something can be sorted out. The club did a shrewd bit of business in getting Andy Jackson on a new deal earlier in the season. Now I suspect some big clubsmaybe even the Old Firmwill be sniffing around trying to find out what it would take to shift him, but I believe he would benefit from another year here. "
5pm - Saints have confirmed their first frees of the summer with Allan McManus and Jamie McCluskey set to leave. While McManus had a decent season and an excellent performance at Hampden last weekend, age is against him and we're not short of centre-halves. As for Jinky, the 20yr old's spell was blighted by metatarsal problems and it's sad to see him go - certainly he's one of the most skilful players we've had at the club. Best wishes to both in trying to fix themselves up with a new club. Del said "With Kevin James returning to fitness I am happy with my centre halves. Allan knew the situation and he goes with our best wishes. He's been a good servant to the club. Jamie has been injured, but he is talented and works hard so he's capable of playing elsewhere." . One player definitely not leaving though is Kevin Moon who today signed a 1yr extension to his contract.
Paul Sheerin meanwhile is in the PA talking about his future. He has still to sort out a deal beyond the summer and the midfielder said, "I was talked out of going part-time last year by my wife. I am glad she made me think again. You can't get your time back in football so I?m trying to make the most of it. After this game is out of the way I'll speak with the manager and see what his thoughts are. I want to hang in there and play a part next season. The Stirling defeat in midweek was disappointing and the squad is really stretched. Obviously it was flatter than at Hampden but the fans who made the trip were the real diehards. It would be good to reward our supporters with a win in the final game of the season. And a wee bit extra spending money for the lean summer months would come in handy!"
Del will announce the remaining departures next week but is still working on his team plans for tomorrow and lifting the team after the midweek defeat at Forthbank. "Some of the lads looked mentally tired in midweek after the Scottish Cup defeat. It's not an excuse but it is understandable. However, the boys deserve credit for battling away and should have had more reward. I don't often say this, but I thought the referee had a really poor game.". Jody will again miss out tomorrow but both Goran Stanic and Allan McManus may play. Kevin Rutkiewicz and Mad Mental Martin will sit out but both Stephen Kerr and Adam Monaghan are in the squad. The manager said, "We have beaten Livingston three times this season. It would be nice to complete the set".
April 24th - Last night's result
has been firmly put into perspective after Saints revealed that sub
Andy Jackson (who himself was replaced
five minutes from time), ended up spending the night in Stirling Royal
Infirmary. Nobody seems to be sure what caused the problem and the club
are awaiting the results of a scan today. Del
told the Official Site, "We were very concerned about Andy last
night. He came off complaining about pins and needles and that quickly
developed into numbness and then severe pain. He left the stadium in a
neck brace and wearing an oxygen mask and was detained overnight. I
believe some of the feeling has returned this morning but we are still
very worried about him."
Meanwhile Allan McManus is having a go at the chairman in the Sun today. The defender, who looks like leaving the club in the summer, has said that Del has stated he wants to keep him but is being overruled by the Saints chairman with Geoff Brown stating that 4 central defenders should be enough at the club. Chalky hasn't given up hope on being able to stay at the club so it's just a matter of wait and see.
April 23rd - Loads of changes
tonight for the trip to Stirling. Kevin
Rutkiewicz, Allan McManus and
Mad Mental Martin are all out because
of their flirtation with a ban. They'll be joined on the sidelines by
Jody Morris and
Goran Stanic who are ruled out through
injury. A decision will be made today on Gary
Irvine and Peter MacDonald.
That all means Stephen Kerr might be in line for a first team debut. Daniel McBreen should also play. The striker turns 31 today and has still to convince Saints that he's worth a deal for next season after spending most of his Saints career on the sidelines. He told the Courier, "It might be a dead game in many ways, but not for me because I need to get a couple of matches under my belt and hopefully amass a few more goals. The injury has been a real pain. Every time I thought I was getting through it I just seemed to break down again. But the last injection seems to have taken, Im getting better every day, so hopefully I can get through these two games then well see what happens. I havent spoken to the gaffer yet about next season. Weve decided to leave it till the end of the week to sit down and have a discussion but I really like it here. "
Finally, Del has confirmed Saints interest in Scumdee pair Swankie and Dixon along with Arabs keeper Euan McLean but that's all.
10:45pm - A dire performance from Saints saw us lose 3-1 at Stirling. Kevin James gave us the lead but then was sent off for handball as the home side got two penalties within a minute or so - he'll miss out this weekend and may have played his last game for the club given his contract is up. As for their third - it doesn't bear thinking about. The result leaves us still needing a point to cement third place although with potential suspensions looming, God knows what defence we'll put out on Saturday.
22nd - There will be plenty of changes for the last two games of
the season. Kevin Rutkiewicz,
Allan McManus(right) and
Mad Mental Martin are all going to sit
the games out since they're one booking away from a two-match suspension.
Gary Irvine is one booking away from a
one-game ban and is in the same boat. Peter
MacDonald is also needing a groin op so may have played his last
match for the season.
For his part, Allan McManus(right) thinks last weekend might have been his last Saints game with his contract up in the summer. He told the Courier, "I think theres every chance Ill be on my way, so Hampden was a good shop window. I feel Ive been pretty consistent over the past two years and Id love to stay, but I dont make the decisions. I cant force the club to keep me. I wont play against Stirling or Livingston because Im one booking away from suspension. The manager is doing me a turn. He says I dont have to be involved in case I am elsewhere next season. This way Ill have a clean slate. It looks as if the semi-final was my last match for the club, but I feel I can leave with my head held high, and well see what happens over the next few weeks "
Despite denials from his agent, the Gavin Swankie rumour is still doing the rounds. His Coagey teammate Paul Dixon is also thought to be a target along with freed United keeper Euan McLean. Meanwhile, Mad Mental Martin says the league is the main target next season. "Looking back on two semi-finals last year and Sunday it seems we dont get any luck at all. We were the better team and should have beaten Rangers. But the better team isnt in the final against Queen of the South. Last year we became known as a good cup side, and weve beaten most of the SPL teams now. The boys here have proved they can play at a higher level. Now we have to recharge the batteries over the summer and come back ready to hit the ground running. We must win that title next season, there can be no more seconds and thirdswe have to go out and grab it "
April 21st - More reaction from
yesterday's loss. Del has spoken to
the Courier and freed Jody Morris of
any blame and said of the penalties, "Jody had been struggling
from about 65 minutes but he felt fine to take one. He hadnt missed
one all week in practice. I cant speak highly enough of all my
players and I really feel for them ."
Liam Craig was also gutted and commented, "Its the worst feeling Ive had in football, I cant really describe how bad it is. We were so close to getting to the final, against a team going for four trophies, but we let it slip away. We didnt really start well, but I thought the lads were excellent in the second half. Ive signed a deal to stay here three years and the reason I did was because I want to work with the manager and Tony Docherty. With them in charge there will be more days like this one. I wouldnt have signed unless I genuinely felt there was a chance of winning the first division and getting to cup finals. It wouldve been a waste of my time and the managers time if I didnt think it was possible. Weve got a good bunch of players and thats three semi finals this club has been in over the past two seasons. Next season were going to make a huge push for the title and hopefully get back to Hampden again. "
Elsewhere man of the match Alan Main said, "Were devastated, he said. To lose on penalties is really disappointing. How we played in the second half, I thought wed go on and win, especially with big Dan coming on and scoring. But we could not hold on as long as we wanted. We played well but now we have to move on. We probably matched them. Good luck to Rangers, weve got next year. The goal came at a decent time and maybe if wed held on in the first period it might have ended differently . "
7pm - Some good news for Saints with the Tully reporting tonight that Kevin Rutkiewicz is close to signing a 2yr deal with talks described as being at an "advanced stage". And in the same paper apparently we've made a done deal for the services of Scumdee's Gavin Swankie, quarantine regulations, nit-nurse inspection and rabies tests permitting of course.
10.30 - More good news for next season from the Official Site, with Saints announcing that season ticket prices will be unchanged for season 2008-09. Added to that the final home game of the season will have admission pegged at a fiver for non-season ticket holders as a reward for supporting the club last weekend. Geoff Brown(right) said, "We received magnificent backing at Hampden Park yesterday and I only wish we could have given the fans a Scottish Cup Final to look forward to. We more than matched the UEFA Cup semi-finalists in every department but we must now put that behind us and turn our attentions to the main target of everyone working at McDiarmid Park a return to the SPL. Derek McInnes is doing a great job and I hope that the announcement of the signing of Liam Craig and the retention of Peter MacDonald and Martin Hardie sends out a message to supporters that we are determined to get back playing our league football at the top level of the game in Scotland. We have an incredibly loyal core support but the better the atmosphere in the stadium, the more it helps the players and I would appeal to the people of Perthshire to come and support their team on a regular basis next season. The £5 admission to this weeks game and the freeze on Season Ticket prices is a gesture of thanks from the club and I hope we get a good turn out against Livingston."
20th -The big day is finally here. Kevin
James is the interview in Scotland on Sunday and he said, "It's
not about learning from defeat in a semi-final, it's about appreciating
everything that comes with it. Players should be using that experience to
give them the hunger and desire to get back there again. It'll be a great
occasion on Sunday, especially as we're a First Division club. Nothing is
expected of us against Rangers. It was the same last year when we faced
Celtic. So the young guys should have no fear I'll be telling them
to just enjoy it. The build-up before the game and during it is something
to savour even if you're getting beat!"
Del meanwhile is in the Sunday Times talking about facing his old boss Wally. He said, "There is no sentiment in football. You go out and win for the team that pays your wages.". Elsewhere there's not much coverage of the game - most TFOD-related articles are treating us as a wee obstacle before their Euro game. As it is, this is the biggest game for Saints since oooh the last cup final. To make an all-SFL final at the end of May would be great - just do us proud!
9.30pm - As cruel as last season was today just rubbed salt in the wounds as a heroic performance wasn't deemed good enough by the Fickle Fates of Fitba. Saints ended up losing on penalties to TFOD after normal time finished goalless and extra-time one-all after sub Daniel McBreen(right) had a diving header cancelled out by one of those annoyingly soft penalties that crop up all the time when you're playing one of the Bigot Bros. The manager was down after the game and said, "It's hard to take. There's not much you can say to make the boys feel better. Thinking what could have been I felt the boys were desperately unlucky, and I'm proud of how gutsy they were. We just need to use this disappointment to spur us on to be successful in the future "
19th - More on the contract renewals from yesterday and
Liam Craig(right) told the Courier, "I
love it at Perth and as well as having this massive game coming up against
Rangers things are looking good for next season, when I want to play a
part in taking the club back to the SPL where it belongs. The timing is
perfect, not just for me but for the fans. By signing myself, Peaso and
Martin they can see how ambitious the club is going forward. Im
delighted Ive got my future sorted out. Two SPL clubs came in with
offers and Falkirk had offered a new deal. But Derek McInnes and Tony
Docherty are great guys to work with and I believe they can take me where
I want to go. "
Jody Morris managed to train yesterday boosting his chances of at least a place on the bench. Del said, "Hes been with the physio up till now because hes taken longer to recover than we thought but Im still hopeful hell make it. Weve got enough experience if he doesnt but were that the case it would be disappointing all round as we are better for having him in the team. Hell relish the big occasion, which is made for him, and be looking to show hes the best player on the park. Kevin James played 70 minutes of the reserves in midweek because he wanted the match practice under his belt. I had also given Martin the option of playing but hed got the 90 minutes last weekend and preferred to train all week instead. Like Jody, Martin and Kevin can be influential for us but obviously we have to assess the risk of how many of them we can play given their fitness situations. "
Meanwhile Kevin Rutkiewicz reckons we've got a big boost with TFOD losing their keeper. He said, "I remember Allan coming to St Johnstone and he was really looking for first-team games after being out of the picture at Ibrox. You could see then that he was a good goalie but now he is definitely one of the best keepers in the country. He even seems to be putting pressure on Craig Gordon in the Scotland set-up and that is an achievement in itself. I know him quite well and he will be so disappointed to be sidelined at such an important stage of the season. Its been a terrific one for him and Rangers so far, but the injury will be a big blow. I was hoping Allan would have one of those days against us as he is long overdue a bad game, but now he wont even be involved and thats bad news for Rangers. " As for our chances he continued, "There is no way we will be negative because all that happens is you end up under the cosh if you try to defend. And we have players who can score goals. We will be massive underdogs and there have been better teams than St Johnstone who have lost to Rangers this season. But every dog has its day, as Queen of the South proved last Saturday against my old club Aberdeen. I think 90% of the nation thought that would be an easy win for the Dons, but I watched most of that game and Queens were really hungry and deserved their victory. We need to show the same desire and enthusiasm as they did. The key thing is self-belief and we have that at St Johnstone. We wont just be going to have a day out because we have too many players who know all about semi- finals and are experienced enough to handle the occasion. "
The defender is happy just to be taking part after missing out on both semis last season. "It was frustrating not being involved but this year I have a chance of making it and am thrilled. It is a great achievement for the club to get into another semi-final and heres hoping we do ourselves proud. "
6pm - Congratulations to Accies who beat Clyde tonight to clinch the Division One title.
April 18th -
Steven Anderson's turn in the papers
today and he told the Courier (after some stuff about his Tannadice
connection), "When you are the underdogs you are free to just go
and express yourself. And if we do that then maybe we can cause Rangers a
problem, although they are flying at the moment. We certainly aim to give
a good account of ourselves. And if we did win it would be the high point
of my career. No doubt about that. "
There was not much else happened yesterday as the players enjoyed a day off ahead of the weekend. Jody Morris(right) was continuing his rehab at the stadium but there won't be a decision made about him until the weekend. The midfielder is keen to make the game though and told the paper, "This is a game Ill relish. It will be my first ever match at Hampden Park and everyone knows that its one of the most famous grounds in world football. I was there as a spectator at the CIS Cup final when I went along with a few Gers fans. They were happy that dayeventuallybut I thought Dundee United were very unlucky. Theyve said I can give them a wave on Sunday but I know what to expect in return! Chelsea are my team but I always follow the other British sides in Europe and cheer them on. Rangers have done very well in the UEFA and could win it. I might even be at the game with Fiorentina next week. It promises to be a great footballing event. But all Im thinking about is Sunday. Im absolutely buzzing at the thought of a cup semi-final. The older you get the more you appreciate these big games and given where Ive come from in the last two years it is something very special. It will be brilliant experiencing Hampden at the weekend. Ive played in a lot of glamorous games but this is up there with any one them. Its what you strive for in football and because of my injury problems in recent seasons it gives it an added edge. Im loving it just as much as any of the younger boys here. My last semi-final would have been back in 2000, the year Chelsea went on to win the FA Cup against Aston Villa. So having the chance to play Rangers in the Scottish Cup has come as a welcome surprise. When I signed I knew the club was up against St Mirren in the quarter finals. We were the underdogs but I quickly realised the lads believed in their ability and knew they could progress. Obviously this Rangers team is a tougher challenge as theyre going for four trophies and re-writing club history. But it would be nice if we could make sure they had to narrow it down to three! "
He managed some rehab time at his old haunt of Stamford Bridge as well during the week and went on, "Chelsea have always been my club and Im still made welcome there. Guys like Frank Lampard were about the place and wished me well for the weekend. Ive also had a few messages from friends in the game down south. They know how much Im looking forward to it and Ive been doing everything in my power to make sure Im fit. I dont really know how to judge it because its not an injury Ive had to deal with before. Hopefully it settles down in time for Sunday. Im still a bit worried but fingers crossed Ill be fine and ready to play "
Looking ahead and one set of rumours doing the rounds is that Liam Craig has agreed a 3-year deal to join Saints permanently - as you'd expect, there's nothing official about it though, although Saints have confirmed they've made the player an offer.
For "Them", it's been confirmed that as well as Weir's suspension, goalkeeper Allan McGregor is out for a fortnight and Lee McCulloch has also been ruled out. Bummer eh?
6.45pm- For once it seemed the rumour mill had something right and there was some good news for Saints fans with a contract announcement from McDiarmid this afternoon. Liam Craig has signed a pre-contract agreement for a 3 year deal starting in the summer. This is despite a 1yr deal being offered by his current employers (who will get some compensation for losing his services). And elsewhere Peaso and Mad Mental Martin have signed two-year extensions to their deals.
Del "Mr Happy" McInnes told the Official Site, "I'm delighted to get these players' futures sorted out. Obviously it is a nice wee boost ahead of Sunday but as always the priority is the league and to know that these three have committed their future to Saints is fantastic news. Liam had an offer to stay with Falkirk and interest from other clubs which would have been more lucrative but he feels his footballing interest is best served by staying at McDiarmid Park and that speaks volumes for him. Fans will be aware how important Martin and Peaso have been to us in recent times and to have them pen two year deals is a great boost as well. We have been working on all three deals for some weeks now and I would like to thank the Chairman for his support in making them happen."
17th - The reserves lost 3-0 to Meadowbank yesterday but
Kevin James got another hour under his
belt while Daniel McBreen played the
full 90 minutes.
The Courier today is carrying an interview with Liam Craig(right). He's out of contract at Falkirk next month and said, "Ive got an offer from Falkirk and a couple from elsewhere. And if I play well I might have another couple of offers to consider! However, Im really only thinking about the game at the moment because thats enough for all of us to concern ourselves with. Its going to be a fantastic experience for everyone and hopefully we can get a result to match it. We certainly arent going there just to make up the numbers. We are going there looking to win. And if Rangers have one eye on that massive game they have in Europe next week then maybe we can catch them out. I dont think theres ever a good time to get either of the Old Firm but because they are going for another three trophies as well as this one and Fiorentina are coming up next week maybe they wont put as much into Sunday as they might. But itll still take a huge performance from us as well as a bit of luck in order for us to win. But you look at the FA Cup this year where Barnsley beat Liverpool and Chelsea before losing out in the semis, and take belief from that "
"I could have still been playing in Falkirk reserves and watching this game on the tele. But Ive come here and the gaffer and Tony Docherty have been brilliant. Theyve given me the belief to get my career back on track and hopefully Ive repaid them with some of my performances. I had hardly played for Falkirk and if the right team came along I wanted to go out on loan. And I knew from the very start coming to St Johnstone was the right move. I arrived on the Friday morning and it was immediately clear that I was going to enjoy it. OK we got beat by Hamilton but I came back in the next week and loved the training. It was disheartening at Falkirk training all week knowing Id not be playing. But the gaffer here made clear that if I was doing well Id be in the team. And under him and Tony Ive gone from strength to strength. "
Elsewhere and the indiscipline at last night's OF match mean TFOD don't have their problems to seek with an injured keeper and red cards galore after a post-match fight in the tunnel, which looks like ruling David Weir out of Sunday's game if his red card was deemed to be for violent conduct.
April 16th -
Del's turn in the papers today and the
manager has told the Courier about how he didn't expect so much after
taking over from Owen last December. "You are never really
surprised in football. But if someone had said to me at the start of the
season Id go on to be managing a team in the semi- finals of the
Scottish Cup final I wouldnt have believed it. It wasnt
something that was in my thoughts. But then things can change so quickly
in this game and I had always wanted to become a manager. Football has
been good to me and I didnt want my involvement to be over when my
playing career ended. I wouldnt have wanted to get into broadcasting
or journalism, although that does look easy! I wanted to be a coach or
manager and Ive been fortunate that my first opportunity has come
with such a good club. And Im determined to make the most of it.
Getting St Johnstone promoted remains the priority. Cups are a bonus here.
But weve tended to do well in these competitions and to reach the
last four of a national tournament three times in two seasons is a great
He's off to watch TFOD in another Battle of the Bigots tonight and went on, "We are fortunate to have a full week to prepare for Hampden. Rangers dont have that luxury. But they do have the luxury of having fantastic players and being on a good run at the moment. Rangers have made good use of their squad in the domestic cups. So it is difficult to second guess the team theyll put out against us. But whoever plays, knowing the management set-up at Ibrox as I do, will be determined, focused and motivated to get the job done. People talk about how tiredness might be a factor for Rangers given the number of games theyve played but Ive seen no sign of that. And when you are on a run like they are, you dont feel tired. You cant wait for the next match. Since Walter Smith came back the improvement in Rangers has been drastic. Hats off to them for the fact they are challenging on four fronts They are probably a year ahead of where they might have expected to be and are definitely a tough nut to crack. But I feel we can cause any opposition, them included, problems, although when our chances come along well have to be as clinical and ruthless as we were in the last round at Love Street. "
15th - Another day, another interview and
Martin Hardie(right) is in the Courier
today talking up our chances at the weekend especially compared with the
Sellik match last year. The midfielder said, "Celtic had scored
through Vennegoor of Hesselinks penalty but I was fortunate enough
to draw us level with about 20 minutes gone. However, we were playing
really well against Celtic even before I scored the equaliser. I remember
Jason Scotland having a great chance and when I watched it back on TV I
recall thinking that he would have scored on any other day. In the second
half Celtic were dead on their feet because, like Rangers this season,
they had played a lot of games. We felt we were the side on top. That was
Celtics best starting 11 but we matched them in every department and
they were very, very lucky to win that game. I do think this semi-final
will be even tougher for us because Rangers are stronger throughout their
side than Celtic were last year in my opinion. We are massive underdogs
but I dont think we have anything to be scared of. "
"I dont think many lower league teams have reached three semi-finals in quick succession like we have done. Last season we made the last four of the Scottish Cup and CIS Cup and are there again this time in the Scottish. Also, lets not forget that we won the Challenge Cup too. I dont think I have lost, as a first division player, to a Premier League team other than in a semi-final. SPL teams find it difficult against usthats a matter of record. You look at how Queen of the South did on Saturday. They just played their normal game and Aberdeen couldnt deal with itplain and simple. And we showed against St Mirren in the quarter-final how to close them down early in the middle of the park and then take your chances when they come along. So we have plenty of experience and wont be worried about anything. ". He's still hoping to take part and went on, "It was good to get 90 minutes and, more importantly, we got a much-needed win to take into the weekend. I am still short of match fitness compared to the rest of boys, but am looking forward to the semi-final as its another chance for our players to show they are capable of playing at a higher level "
Rocco Quinn is looking less and less likely to make the game.Del said, "Rocco is struggling. He had a scan and there is a tear in the hamstring so he wont make the game unless he has a remarkable recovery. Thats a pity because I think its his type of occasion and the bigger the game the better for him. ". Saints have a reserve game tomorrow to keep the fitness levels up but the manager continued, "I feel I have players who can score against them, if we get chances. I believe we can create openings against most teams but we need to be clinical, just as we were away to St Mirren in the quarter-final. We will get pats on the back for just being in a semi again, but I recall being part of the team last year and losing was so disappointing. We had played well in both the CIS match against Hibs and the Scottish against Celtic but just fell short, with our concentration levels costing us goals. There was a belief last year, though, and we need that again this time around. Whoever starts or is in the 16 for Hampden needs to go in with the mentality that we are going there to win and not just to enjoy the occasion. I saw what it meant to the Queen of the South boys and I know what a fantastic day lies in front of them. I want that for my players. "
8pm- The bad news is that as we expected, Rocco Quinn is definitely out this weekend and the scan on his hamstring has ruled him out for the rest of the season. Slightly better news for Jody Morris who was back running today and both Kevin Jamesand Martin Hardie(right) have come through unscathed after their efforts against Morton. Saints have confirmed a rearranged reserve match against Meadowbank tomorrow at McDiarmid with a 1pm kick-off. Trialist Nick "The Real" McKoy is set to get another run out in an effort to win a deal.
14th - Rocco Quinn(right) is
already a major doubt for next weekend but Jody
Morris will hopefully be back in training tomorrow.
Kevin Rutkiewicz should also be back after
missing out at the weekend with an injury. And, while not underestimating
the task, Derek McInnes reckons we've
got as good a chance as ever of winning the cup. He told the Courier,
after the semi opponents were confirmed, "Well be more than
ready for next weekend. Like Queen of the South weve got a lot
of experienced players who will be able to handle the occasion. No
disrespect to Queen of the South whether it was Partick Thistle or
Rangers we had to face in the semi, the club and the players for
themselves will never get a better chance to win the Scottish Cup. It
would be a great opportunity for us if we got to the final. "
Despite his comeback at the weekend, Kevin James isn't expecting to start on Saturday. The skipper told the paper, "Ill not be playing next week. I only played this match because Kevin Rutkiewicz was injured. The gaffer has said hell give me games before the end of the season because thats what I need. This season has basically been a write off for me and Id asked to go out on loan to get games under my belt. So it was great to get a game and to score at the end was a nice bonus. Ive been training for the last three or four months without playing so I really dont expect to be playing next weekend to be perfectly honest. As a professional Ill prepare as if Im playing but my match fitness isnt there. Id like to think Ill be on the bench but well see what happens.". He was happy with his contribution to the morale-boosting win though. "We needed that to give us a boost for what is a massive match. We didnt want to be going into it having not won in five. Nobody pulled out of challenges, which was pleasing to see, and boys were playing for their places. The victory and the confidence it brings was the most important thing and it was also great to see Andy Jackson get two goals for his own confidence ". There was praise for the striker from the manager as well who said, "Jackos been off the boil a wee bit recently by his own admission but hes had a fantastic first full season at senior level (he now has 19 goals) and Im delighted he got on the scoresheet ahead of next weekends game. I also wanted a clean sheet but in the second half I felt we didnt approach it in the same manner. "
6.45pm - The interviews are coming thick and fast and now we know our semi opponents, Steven Milne spoke to the Official Site about the last encounter with the Forces of Darkness when Saints won at the Death Star. The striker said, "It was a great night for me and the club but it was a long time ago now and Rangers are unrecognisable from the side we played that night both in terms of management and players. They are going for what would be a remarkable set of four trophy wins this season and they will be determined not to be shocked by the underdogs the way Aberdeen were on Saturday. A number of the players who played in the League Cup and Scottish Cup semi-finals last season are still here and we have to use that experience to good effect on Sunday. Last season's Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic at Hampden will be particularly helpful in that respect. Hopefully we can help the players for who a game at Hamden will be a new experience.". As for the form book, he went on, "Whoever won yesterday deserved to be in the semi-final against us. Queen of the South have done brilliantly to get to the final and it would be great to make it an all First Division final. You only have to look to England where none of the 'top clubs' have been involved in the FA Cup semi-finals to see that it is a season for the less fancied teams and there is no reason we can't emulate Portsmouth, Cardiff or Queen of the South."
The squad are off to St Andrews to train tomorrow and Del said, "Our preparation won?t differ too much from a normal week but a change of venue for one or maybe two days will keep the players fresh and focussed." Finally confirmation that both sides will be wearing their away kit this weekend - 'mon the Yellow Army!!
April 13th - The semi-final opponents have finally been confirmed with Partick dropping out after failing to beat TFOD. So expect sod all fair play next Sunday and a more poisonous atmosphere than there was at Hampden yesterday.
April 12th -
Savo has admitted in the Courier today
that all the players need to put on a good performance at home to Morton
this afternoon to ensure their places are safe for next weekend's cup
semi-final. He said, "Were all playing for our places
tomorrow and we also want to be going into the semi-final on the back of a
win and with the confidence that brings. Ill be looking to get a
goal as well because I havent scored for a little while now.
Possibly the semi-final has been in the back of our minds in the last few
weeks. Weve gone four games without a win and if wed still had
a chance of winning the league Im sure wed have picked up more
points than we have done. The incentive is clear for everyone because we
all want to be playing at Hampden next Sunday and will be going all out to
try and get into the semi-final team. I went in for my operation before
the CIS Cup semi and, although Id trained for a few days before the
Scottish Cup one and was in the squad, I always knew that I wouldnt
be involved in that one either. So I really want to play in this one. "
Derek McInnes echoed that saying, "To be fair, I was really pleased with the performance against Dunfermline two weeks ago but against Hamilton we were very poor. I do think that, as much as Ive been at pains to stress how important it is to go into the semi-final in good form, maybe sub-consciously the semi and staying clear of injury for it is in the back of their minds. But they cant afford to do that. Youre more likely to get injured if youre holding back. First of all the players have to cement their place in the semi-final team. If youre off form your place is in jeopardy. They need to make my mind up. I feel as if we need a really committed performance against Morton. As a team we need to get up to speed. If were not competitive and aggressive we dont win games. Very few teams can win games half-cocked and were not one of them. I know how hard Morton have worked to get into the first division and the first division is better for them being in it. From a personal point of view I want them to stay up and in an ideal world thats what will happen and well win tomorrow."
There are no new worries for the injury list which makes a change with the comeback trio of Kevin James, Martin Hardie and Daniel McBreen all looking like they'll play some part. It's also been reported that trialist Nick McKoy who impressed for the reserves on Monday is coming back north for another game next week.
6.30pm - Two from Andy Jackson were cancelled out as Saints went for the shoot-themselves-in-the-foot tactical approach today but a late winner from returning skipper Kevin James saw us run out 3-2 winners at home to Morton leaving Davie Irons team firmly entrenched in the play-off slot. Elsewhere and Queen of the South did the SFL proud today with a 4-3 win over Aberdeen to book their place in the final - congratulations to them on a job well done. Unfortunately it does mean the media arseholes like Chic the Pric have managed to drag out the farmer cliches in an attempt to sound like a man of the peepil.
11th - After a quiet week for Saints, there is not too much for us
to get excited about with the visit of Morton tomorrow, although the Davie
"Jinxed" Irons-managed side still have a lot to play for to
avoid a play-off slot. Saints though need to get our morale boosted after
a pretty depressing fortnight and Derek
McInnes(right) is looking for a much improved performance after last
weekend's mess. He told the Official Site, "I have stressed to
the players that I am looking for a great deal from tomorrow's match. I
want individuals to play well, I want the goalkeeper and defenders to keep
a clean sheet, I want the midfielders to be competitive and confident and
I want the strikers scoring goals. When we come together on Monday morning
I want us to do so with a win behind us a bit of a spring in our step -
not having to have a post-mortem about Saturday's game as we have had to
do the past couple of weeks." So despite asking for the near
impossible, it looks like it won't be a first string side on the park
tomorrow with the emphasis on the cup semi next weekend. He continued,
"Much as I want to win tomorrow - and make no mistake about that -
our season comes down to one game now and that is at Hampden Park next
Sunday. That is what makes tomorrow so important for us even if the league
is not the priority any more. Morton have worked hard to get into this
league and will fight hard to stay here. They will be aggressive, full of
running and will show plenty of effort. If we don't at least match that
then we will lose. We must show the same determination to win this
game as they will."
It looks like Jody Morris and Rocco Quinn will both miss out but after the reserve game, Kevin James, Martin Hardie and Daniel McBreen are back in contention. The manager said, "These three are in my thoughts more than they were a week ago because all three have come through varying degrees of involvement in last Monday's reserve game and training with no ill-effects. However, the bottom line is that none of the three are ever going to attain match-fitness in what remains of this season so I have to work out whether it is taking a wee risk with them. All three are very influential players who I want to have at my disposal."
April 7th - Saints have another
reserver game lined up tonight away to East Fife.
Kevin James looks set to get the full 90
minutes with Martin Hardie also getting
an hour. There's also likely to be a new face in 21yr old former Cardiff
and MK Dons midfielder Nick McCoy. Derek
McInnes said of the new face, "Nick has been recommended to
us and as well as getting a game tonight he will train with us for two or
Elsewhere on the Official Site, the manager was still angry after Saturday's performance. "For me, it was the poorest display of the season. We didn't play well individually or as a group but what I was most unhappy about was that there seemed to be an acceptance that it wasn't going to be our day. We are a good team when we are pressing and dictating play but we were lacklustre throughout on Saturday and we are not a good enough team to win games in that mode. I told the players before the game to hit the ground running and play on the nerves of the Accies players but then we lost a silly goal after five minutes and we are never really at it after that. We were slightly better after the break but still nowhere near good enough. The players have got to realise the opportunity that is going to be presented to them and this football club in a fortnight - the chance to make a Scottish Cup final and be in with a great shout of winning that final. However, for now we get over Saturday by concentrating on Morton's visit here this weekend. They are a club fighting for their lives and if we play the way we did on Saturday we will lose another game. That's not acceptable."
Jody Morris and Rocco Quinn are still suffering calf and hamstring injuries and neither will be risked this weekend if they're less than 100% fit with the semi-final deemed more important. Alan Main had a thigh strain as well thus explaining the appearance of the Cat in goal and the manager said, "Cat has been a terrific professional this season. He is disappointed not to have been the number one choice but he never lets it show in training where he sets high standards. Alan Main has a wee thigh problem but Kevin was there on Saturday because he deserved it."
April 5th -
Martin Hardie is already looking to
next season's league campaign but he also knows there is a semi-final
place at stake as well. After most of the year was spent on the sidelings,
the Mad Mental One is back into contention for a place at Accies today and
he told the Courier, "The reason I came to this club was because
there was real potential to get into the SPL under Owen Coyle and I still
believe that we can do it with Derek McInnes in charge. And we have shown
over the last couple of years, albeit in the cup competitions, that we can
compete against, and beat, teams from the Premier League. It has been
frustrating to miss out on promotion when, every year, we have been either
favourites or second favourites to go up. We have to do something about
that. During my time here we have finished second to a strong St Mirren
team and last year we were the strongest team in the league, only to not
get enough points on the board and lose out to Gretna. This time we have
had to chop and change things a bit, with Owen leaving and Derek taking
over. However, I am sure that next term, when the gaffer has made the
changes he wants to make, we will be ready to challenge for the
"The most disappointing thing is that our away form hasnt been as good as the home form. We have had a really good home record but when away we have not pushed the boat out and done enough to get victories. It is not for the want of trying, its just that we have not had enough guile and experience to see matches out. Any team knowing St Johnstone are coming to play them should be a wee bit wary because we have good players. I think it will be a good game. Hamilton are at home and have made the most of that advantage but weve done well when we have played them. A player should always want to do the best for his club and for himself and thats how our lads will be looking at it. An example of a team showing the right approach came in midweek when Dundee played at Partick. Most people expected them to turn Thistle over but it wasnt to be and that says a lot for the Partick players. There are a lot of people at this club out of contract, including myself, so thats another incentive to do well. We are also playing for places in the Scottish Cup semi-final. "
The manager is still hoping that Steven Milne will be back after his bout of gastric flu while Rocco Quinn should also return.Stuart McCaffrey has been ruled out of the rest of the season with his heel injury.
6.15pm - Worst performance of the season by a mile saw us lose 2-0 to Hamilton. Not even worth bothering about as that seemed to be the attitude for too many of the players for long periods of the game. Every single one of them needs to improve their attitude or else we'd be as well playing a youth side at Hampden.
April 4th - With his Accies
counterpart apparently in for Manager of the Year,
Derek McInnes was being oh so
diplomatic in the Courier today. "Billy has done so well and
deserves to be there. Over the last couple of seasons he has been building
a team. This year they have shown real consistency and have been so hard
to beat. Their home record is fantastic. They have only lost three league
goals there all season, and thats unheard of really. If he gets
promotion for Hamilton then that will add a lot of weight to his record.
If they dont go up he could still be seen as a failure, but the
progress his club has made is a great credit to him. So anybody who has
constructed a side the way Billy has deserves enormous credit. He has had
the luxury of quite a settled squad and that always helps. Any team that
wins promotion or titles does not use too many players, so there has been
that element to their season. He has a good squad, including a lot of
young talent but also a couple of experienced ones. They are difficult to
beat if you go behind when playing them and (they) are resilient. "
As for tomorrow, he went on, "I really want to beat them and we have done all right against Hamilton in recent times. I also think they will be wary of us given our record against them. If I were in their shoes I would be saying, 'Win this one and its a big, big step towards clinching the title. Whoever wins the championship will deserve it, be it Dundee or Hamilton. From my point of view, though, we are trying to get back to winning ways and have a massive matcha Scottish Cup semi-final no lesscoming up, and whether its against Rangers or Partick I want to go into that one on the back of some league victories. I have to play the best team available to me and thats what I will be doing. I dont like the plastic pitch, but weve done well on it in past so if we lose the game it will be because we have not played well enoughnot because of the surface."
April 3rd -
Derek McInnes reckons Saturday's trip
to Hamilton is a bit of an anti-climax with Saints out of the title race.
The manager said in the Courier, "It is a bit annoying that we
are not involved in the title race at this stage but we still feel the
need to go there and win the game regardless. For us, it is not about what
happens to either Hamilton or Dundee but about keeping our season going.
We want to have an edge to our play right up to the semi-final and beyond,
so we will be doing all we can to get the three points. "
Steven Milne hasn't trained due to sickness but should be fit while Rocco Quinn is set to return from his hamstring injury.
Meanwhile the SFA have confirmed Dougie McDonald as the man in charge of our semi-final. All we need to sort out are the opponents.
1st - A quick reminder first of all that the tickets for the
semi-final go on sale to season ticket holders today with the ticket
office opening at 09.30. Full details on the
Official Saints Site
There are some players hoping to feature in that game who have hardly kicked a ball under the new manager. Yesterday's closed doors game at Cappielow finished 2-2 with Martin Hardie(right) playing 45 minutes and Kevin James getting the full 90. Derek McInnes told the Courier, "They both did well. Id like to have played Martin a bit longer but weve got to be sensible and not rush things. In the 45 minutes he played he did a lot of good things. It was also really pleasing to see Kevin get 90 minutes under his belt because he really needed it. "
Top Of News
March 31st - After another good
performance on SaturdayLiam Craig says
he's not made up his mind about next season yet. The on-loan star has been
offered a new contract by Falkirk but said in today's Courier, "I
just want to play as well as I can for St Johnstone. Im
concentrating on playing well for them every game and thats all thats
on my mind. Once the season finishes thats when I know what Ill
be doing next season. Its a boost for me that Falkirk have offered
me a new deal, but it says a lot for St Johnstone as well, them bringing
me here, and the players I have round about me helps me play better as
well. If it wasnt for them I probably wouldnt be in the
position where Falkirk are offering me a contract. "
Despite Saturday's draw, there is still a semi-final looming but the midfielder knows we should have done betterin the league. "The semis going to be a massive day, but if youre not playing well on a Saturday youre not going to get a look-in for the semi final, thats what the players have got to realise. Itll be a great day out at Hampden, but weve got to do well in the league or well not be picked. I hope thats the way the other players are looking at it because thats the way Im looking at it. I thought we were excellent in the first half but weve got to learn to finish teams off. The gaffer says thats why were third in the league, because weve not learned to do that yet. I didnt think Dunfermline put us under any real pressure at all but we just didnt take our chances. "
Derek McInnes said, "I felt we lacked conviction with our chances but the play to get up into their last third was very pleasing. There was a lot to be pleased about but weve been here before and weve ended up losing two points. We should have dealt with the goal better but todays why were third in the league. What we need to do is make sure when were on top and in charge of games we put teams away the way we should have done today. The approach was great. We came out of the traps quickly, created a number of chances and put a decent team on the back foot for long periods. I was delighted with the response to a poor result the other night. "
Not too much happening otherwise today. Saints played a closed doors game against Morton this afternoon with several fringe players featuring. Meanwhile Barry Wilson has returned north to Caley Thistle at the end of his month's loan.
March 29th - Allan McManus got us a goal but poor defending meant a 1-1 draw with the Pars which summed up our season more than anything. After the game Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "I said at half-time that I wanted them to concentrate and ideally go on to make it 2-0 or 3-0 but that if we had to tough it out for a 1-0 win then so be it. Instead we have lost a bad goal the ball has travelled the best part of 80 yards and we have ended up dropping two points. Today sums up why we are only third in this league. I was delighted with the response of the players to the Clyde defeat and we played some great football, particularly in the first half. There was plenty to be pleased about. We were quick out of the traps, our approach play was excellent and we played some lovely long and short passes which really stretched a good opposition side. However, instead of heading away from here pleased with a good days work we are looking at another draw scenario. Im fed up saying it but we have to learn how to put teams away when we are on top it is a mentality rather than a performance issue."
March 28th - With the gloom set
to hit us tomorrow in the first nothing game of the season as the Pars
visit, Derek McInnes has made the
rallying call to the players to get them to at least finish the season as
strongly as possible. He told the Courier, "We cant afford
to let standards drop. We arent good enough to turn it on and off
like a tap and, to be ready for the cup semi-final, we must continue to
train and perform at the right level. I dont want the players
falling into the trap of thinking there is only the cup left for us. We
need to retain the right sort of edge around the club. We arent up
to winning games at half-pace. For me any chance we had of promotion was
ended by the result at Firhill. But we still have to finish as high as
possible and go into the semi with that winning mentality. "
Jody Morris is back in training today but Rocco Quinn faces a fitness test. Goran Stanic should be back as well and Peaso looks like starting although seems set for hernia surgery in the summer.
4pm - The Official Saints Site has announced details of the tickets for the semi-final. They go on sale to season ticket holders next Tuesday priced at 18-25 smackers. We've got an initial allocation of 4,500 briefs, but more can be requested apparently.
March 27th - Greg Cameron's season looks to be over after he was stretchered off with a knee injury on Tuesday night. Better news though is that Jody Morris will be available to play against the Pars on Saturday.
March 26th - The loss of the
unbeaten home record has left a real cloud of gloom hanging over McDiarmid
this morning. Derek McInnes was just
as depressed after the game last night and told the Courier, "Im
gutted at losing the unbeaten home record. There was no excuse for the
opening 25 minutes and that meant we left the game to chance. We threw
caution to the wind at the end and credit to Clyde, they stood up to it,
but when you miss penalties and the chances we did, it is hugely
disappointing. In the second half we showed we had the players and had the
appetite for it and there is not too much we can criticise them for this
Congratulations to Jody Morris whose wife gave birth to a baby boy yesterday.
Finally, the Stirling game has been rearranged for Wed April 23rd at 7.30pm
25th - Saints take on Clyde tonight in the first rearranged fixture
with realistically, only cup places and new contracts to play for (unlike
our visitors who are fighting to avoid a play-off).
Savo(right) says that the determination
is still there at the club to finish the season on a high though as he
spoke to the Courier. "It felt like a defeat on Saturday, not
because we had outplayed them and really deserved to win but because we
needed to win every game. Since the manager took charge we have had a good
record. To be honest, the damage was done early in the season when we had
too many draws. We didnt get off to a good start and were playing
catch-up. Thats been the case too often during my time here.
We just couldnt get ahead and stay there for any period of time. Our
home record is really good and were unbeaten here but we need more
consistency in our play over a season. Its now looking unlikely that
well be involved in the title race but we will still be trying to
win every game and keep our form going ahead of the Scottish Cup
semi-final next month. "
He didn't rate the Firhill pitch either and went on, "I dont think there have been many worse than that one at Partick. In fact, I was driving home the other day and looked over at games being played on the public parks and thought the pitches looked a lot better than the one we played on. ". Derek McInnes echoed that saying, "I was disappointed with the result on Saturday but not with the application of players as it was impossible to try to play football on that pitch. It did not suit us because we are not the type of team to play from back to front. There was a lack of creativity from both teams, due mainly to the surface. It is probably the worst Ive seen. It was ridiculous and theres no point trying to hide that fact. "
Expect some changes tonight. Jody Morris is down south pacing the labour wards while Rocco Quinn's hamstring looks like keeping him out as well. Goran Stanic is also still rated doubtful but the manager expects a good finish from the players. "There is no way there will be any let-up. We will be up against a team fighting against relegation and I know their manager well and he will have them fired up. It might also be a good thing that we will have to make changes because the people coming in will have a point to prove. I am really excited about this game and the boys will be, too. We have four home games leftplus a couple of difficult away gamesand we want to win the lot. "
11pm - A poor performance including missed penalties from Paul Sheerin and Liam Craig saw us lose the unbeaten home record in a poor 2-1 defeat to Clyde with Barry Wilson notching our consolation. Greg Cameron was taken off with an ankle injury but on the plus side, Martin Hardie came off the bench for the last five minutes.
22nd - Saints head through to Partick today for their cup
semi-final dress rehearsal. Paul "Penalty
Miss" Sheerin is expecting a tough game but is hoping we meet
the Firhill side in the semis. In the Courier, he said, "It would
be nice if we could meet again in the Scottish Cup. I got excited for all
of 30 seconds on Wednesday when Thistle took the lead against Rangers. I
had Sky Sports News on and saw the goal come up for 1-0, but by the time I
was able to switch the radio on Rangers had equalised. The way the
Scottish Cup is working out maybe it will mirror the FA Cup and Thistle
will beat Rangers in their replay so that three lower league clubs are in
the semis. Obviously, quietly we would prefer Partick to win, but were
really not that bothered who we play in the semi-final. As far as tomorrow
is concerned, hopefully the extra days rest weve had will help
us. By all accounts their pitch is worse than the last time we were down
there, which is hard to believe! Well have to adjust our playing
style because of that, but were on a good run so weve nothing
to fear. We know we have to win every game. I know its a tall order
but were still believing and we want to take it on as long as we
As for his spot-kick miss midweek, he was philosophical about it. "The run had to come to an end some time. I changed my mind about where to put the penalty, which is something I dont usually do. It was probably a good time to miss one, if there is such a thing, but I then managed to try my hardest to give them another chance. It was a nightmare. Ive missed plenty of penalties in my time but Im not used to giving them away at the other end. Fortunately we defended well after that. Liam Craig scored his penalty in the first St Mirren game and Peaso is always quick to try and grab the ball as well, but Im still happy to take the penalties. It will be up to the gaffer ". He's also been covering at left-back (and might do so again today if Goran Stanic loses his fitness battle) and said of his new role, "Ive actually enjoyed playing there. Im just happy to be involved in the team with the competition for places we have here."
Steven Anderson is back in the squad while Greg Cameron has also been added as he recovered from his hamstring injury. Derek McInnes wants the players to forget about the cup today and said, "Looking at our fixture list for the run-in, I always felt that this would be as hard a game as we would have. Weve got to try and pick up three points and, as I said last week, theres no room for error. Its important we maintain our momentum. The pitch is a bit of a concern. It cut up badly the last time we played there. I watched Thistle recently and it was dreadful, theres no other word for it. But both teams will have to try and play on it. We now feel that were playing with confidence and that we have a great chance of winning any game, no matter the opposition, if we play well. "
6.30pm - An absolutely dire borefest ended out title hopes today with a 0-0 draw at Firhill with little real action and the only worry being Rocco Quinn's early substitution with a possible hamstring injury.
21st - After getting his 50th goal for Saints midweek,
Peaso(right) is out to add to that
at Firhill tomorrow. The striker is close to signing a new deal with
Saints and told the Courier, "It didnt even come into my
thinking when I scored it that the goal at St Mirren was my 50th. I forgot
about it until the end of the match. It was certainly a good way to
celebrate it with that sort of strike, but I can tell you that the tap-ins
are still the best. You cant beat the feeling you get from one of
them. All three of the goals we scored at Love Street were very good ones
and I didnt actually realise how good until I watched them on the
television last night. Ive been played on the left at lot this
season so Im enjoying playing up front just now because its my
preferred position, and at the moment the movement of the three of us is
killing teams. "
He doesn't underestimate the task tomorrow with our recent record at Firhill a poor one and the opposition coming off a draw at the Death Star. "It was a surprise that they got a draw at Ibrox but they played really well and it has reminded us it will be a hard game on Saturday. As for the semi-final, well look forward to Rangers or Thistle. It doesnt bother me who we face. It will be great to go back to Hampden after last seasons semi-final against Celtic. Although we lost, we caused them problems and it was a great occasion. "
Meanwhile assistant boss, Tony Docherty was still full of praise for the win on Tuesday. "The boys were excellent. Everybody has been talking about the goals we scored, but it was our work ethic that pleased me most. We signalled our intent straight from the first whistle and I dont think they could cope with it. The boys were brave in possession and a perfect example of that was Liam Craig. His first two cross-field passes went straight into their keepers hands, but he kept doing it and his third cross picked out Rocco Quinn for his goal. Our cup run can only be positive for our league campaign because everybody will now want to play in the semi-final at Hampden."
5.30pm - Latest team news is that Goran Stanic is a doubt for tomorrow still. And Gordon O'Brien has joined Berwick on loan until the end of the season.
20th - Looks like chaos rules this morning after Partick Thistle
got a 1-1 draw at the Death Start against TFOD last night. The result
means another Quarter-final replay has to be squeezed in to Rangers'
crowded fixture list and talk in the aftermath of the game last night was
that it would take place on Sunday April 13th at 3pm - sound
familiar? Yup the organisation means that the date clashes with the one
scheduled for our semi-final clash with the winners (also set to be live
on Auntie Beed). Worse though is the knock-on effect which means that it's
more than likely that the semi-final would be rearranged for a no-doubt
dreich midweek night thus depriving a lot of Saints fans of the chance to
make the clash as well as the associated revenue. No doubt the SFA will
manage to sort the mess out - after all it's what they're paid for -
especally given the rule which has applied in the past that the cup takes
priority over the league.
Meanwhile, Derek McInnes is still basking in the glory from Tuesday night's win and he told the Courier, "Other people may have thought our chance had gone when we drew the first game at McDiarmid Park but that was never our thinking. That initial game was a missed opportunity but we still believed we could go there and win the replay, as I think was evident in the way we set the tone from the off. The guys here can handle the bigger games no problem. Our problem in the league has been drawing too many matches, but in doing that weve shown how difficult we are to beatI think weve only lost five games over 90 minutes all season, and thats a quality which serves you well in cup competition. Last year Owen took the club to two semi- finals; this year weve won the Challenge Cup and are now through to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup. That shows how strong we are in knock-out tournaments. The great thing about Tuesday night is that it keeps everything bubbling and ensures the feel good factor at the club continues. We havent given up on promotion either and the challenge now is to keep on winning all the way up to the semi-final and see where that leaves us placed. "
After his performance on Tuesday, Alan Main(right) is looking for Saints to go one better than last year. The keeper said, "I just hope we can go one better than the club did last year, when they lost out to Celtic. Everyone involved with St Johnstone will be looking forward to the occasion. Its a massive lift for the club. Im really pleased I made the decision to come back to Saints. It has been a really good season. We won the Challenge Cup, we are still in with a shout in the league and the Scottish Cup is a bonus. When I left Gretna they were getting ready for the Premier League but I knew I was coming back to a stable club and one I knew really well. I have a great rapport with the fans and its nice to know theyll be backing us at Hampden. I owe a lot of people at St Johnstone."
Rocco Quinn was the only one who was doubtful after the win when he was subbed due to suffering from stomach cramps but he should be fit for the weekend.
6pm- Confirmation tonight that the semi-final will now be on Sunday April 20th at 3pm. That means the Morton game on the 12th goes ahead as usual but we'll have to find a new date for the Stirling game due to be played on the 19th. Pity the earlier suggestion of playing the semi-final on May 3rd after the league was over for us was ignored but common sense isn't exactly in abundance in the offices of power these days.
March 19th - Plenty of coverage in the papers today although there are a lot of "Celtic loan star" and "ex-Rangers youth player" tags for a couple of our goalscorers last night. It's also been confirmed that the semi-final against Partick or The Forces of Darkness will be on Sunday April 13th at 3pm. Not much in the way of new comments but the manager told the Courier, "Its Rangers or Thistle now and well deal with that in due course. The cup run last season built momentum in the league and hopefully that will happen again. I was absolutely delighted with the boys. They put so much into the game. The standard and quality of the goals was magnificent. "
March 18th - Saints look set to
take over 600 fans through to Love St tonight and the club have announced
that tickets will be available at St Midden's ground up to kick-off.
Derek McInnes reckons we've got a good
chance though and the manager told the Courier, "I know that
people say that if you dont win when you have a Premier League team
at home then youve lost your chance, but I dont buy into that.
Its a different game but its more or less the same players and
the prize at stake is still the same. Hopefully the committed performance
that we gave in the first match will be the same as well. If it is then weve
got a great chance. Personally, I cant wait to get to Love Street
tomorrow. Im really looking forward to it, and the players are as
well. Its cup football and weve got a real chance to progress.
Hopefully well make the most of our opportunity. "
"Were going there on the back of a couple of good wins against Queen of the South and Livingston. The boys have shown a great attitude since they lost to Dundee. Weve always been a good home side but I feel as though were getting better away from home as well. You have to give St Mirren every respect as a Premier League team and in most peoples eyes they are the favourites but I feel that Ive got Premier League standard players here and hopefully theyll want to show that tomorrow. Last seasons cup success has really whetted the appetite of the players. We showed what can be done by running the eventual winners, Celtic, so close and we want to get to that stage again, and maybe even the final itself"
Goran Stanic and Kevin Rutkiewicz should return to the side tonight but Steven Anderson is suspended.
11pm - We're going back to Hampden!!!!!!!!!!! An amazing Saints performance saw us slaughter the Buddies 3-1 at Love St courtesy of a cracking volley from Rocco Quinn, an Andy Jackson(right) goal and a curling effort from Peaso. Even Paul Sheerin was able to miss his first penalty in 36 years - we were simply that good. Elsewhere and the Sheep gubbed the Forces of Evil at Parkhead to set up their semi against QoS, while we await the outcome of the Rangers v Partick game tomorrow. Our semi-final will be on Sunday April 13th which means the Morton game the day before will be rearranged. Speaking to the BBC after the game, Derek McInnes said, "The boys put so much into the game and the standard of the goals we got was magnificent. We started the game on the front foot. We had a few chances after that if I'm being greedy and nit-picking. It was too frantic for my liking in the second half but in general terms I was delighted with the players "
March 16th - Despite the win yesterday, Derek McInnes still had some criticism of the performance. He told the Sunday Mail, "We might run out of games to catch them but credit to Hamilton as it was a fantastic result for them. But things can tighten up a bit in the run-in so we have to concentrate on our jobs and keep winning. I don't want to take anything away from our display but we were a bit wasteful with chances and it took two great pieces of individual skill from Rocco to win it."
15th - Liam Craig is set to
return to action for Saints after his suspension today and the midfielder
told the Courier, "Missing the match at Dundee was a really sore
one for me. If wed won it would have been disappointing not to have
been a part of it, but obviously we lost and it was frustrating not to be
able to do anything to stop that from happening. I had to watch the Queen
of the South game on Tuesday from the stand as well and thankfully the
lads did really well to come from behind and win 2-1. It was good that we
had a midweek game, as I wouldnt have wanted to wait until next
Saturday to play again in the league. If selected, hopefully I can help us
win tomorrow. Hamilton are playing Dundee and we have a game in hand to
play as well, so its possible that the gap could soon be seven
points behind the two of them. Weve got eight games to go and were
aiming to win them allwe cant do any more than that and we
will see where that takes us. "
He's out of contract in the summer and is still to decide where he wants to play next year. "A lot of people have asked me about next year, but I just leave it to my agent. Im just enjoying my football at St Johnstone just now and Im grateful to the club for giving me the chance to play regular first team football. If Id been playing for Falkirk reserves Id be struggling for next season, but luckily Ive done well and it will be interesting to see if anyone comes in for me in the summer. Im not ruling out staying hereIve loved my time at St Johnstone and really enjoyed working with the gaffer and Tony Docherty. This is a club that should be in the Premier League everything is geared up for it. All Im concentrating on at the moment, though, is playing football and hopefully helping us claw some points back on the teams above us and keep our cup run going. "
Goran Stanic should return to the side for the trip to Meadowbank today although that's the only improvement in the injury situation. The manager has still to decide on Andy Jackson but Derek McInnes told the paper, "On their day Livingston can be a terrific team, and thats what we always need to be aware of. They are a good passing side and, if they get on top, can punish you. They need the points as much as we do for different reasons, so we can expect a tough game and well give them the respect they deserve I thought it was a great response from the players to win on Tuesday night after going a goal behind. They kept trying the right things. We have to concentrate on beating Livingston and well see afterwards what has given between Hamilton and Dundee. "
6.30pm - Another good solid performance from Saints saw us run out 2-0 winners against Livingston with both goals coming courtesy of Rocco Quinn(right), the second probably a candidate for goal of the season. Both Goran Stanic and Kevin Rutkiewicz failed to make the side.
March 14th -
Andy Jackson is set to start tomorrow
after getting the all-clear following his wee trip to hospital on Tuesday
night. The striker told the Courier, "I was actually knocked out
cold when I was playing under-19s against Falkirk and I was kept in
overnight that time. That was a lot worse and I cant remember
anything about it to this day. I can remember the incident happening on
Tuesday but I got two doses of morphine and after that I cant
remember being taken off the pitch. I didnt lose consciousness when
it happened but my neck was numb, which was quite scary. When I was going
into the ambulance I heard the crowd cheer and I said to the ambulance
guy, Did we score? and he said, At least we know
youre still with us!' I didnt know we had won 2-1 until
Liam Craig told me later."
"Strikers take a lot of knocks and all the centre-backs I play against are bigger than me so Im used to taking a bit of a battering. Im going to train tomorrow and Ill be available for Saturday. If I could get 20 goals it would be beyond what I expected at the start of the season when I wasnt even near to playing. Im definitely looking to get there."
Derek McInnes meanwhile knows we can't afford to slip up. "Weve got eight games left and I feel we have to win all eight of them. As soon as we lose one I would imagine that would be it all over, if Im being honest. There are 24 points to be won and thats what were looking for. We just have to take each game one by one, starting at Livingston, and if we win we can see what gives in the match between Hamilton and Dundee. Then weve got the cup replay coming up on Tuesday, so theres plenty still to play for. "
March 12th - Saints have announced details of the ticket arrangements for the replay against St Mirren next Tuesday. Season ticket holders can get their briefs tomorrow and Friday at the club either in person (with voucher 25 from the season ticket) or over the phone on 01738 4555000. After that there will be a general sale on Saturday in person only from 10-12 or on Monday and Tuesday from 9am to 5pm. Prices are £16 for adults and a tenner for concessions. Although there are reports from St Mirren fans that tickets will be available via a kiosk at Love St, there is no confirmatiion of this on the Saints site so I reckon it's best to play safe.
11th- Kevin James(right) has
spoken to the Courier of his willingness to help Saints no matter what's
asked for him -including being an emergency striker as he turned into at
the weekend. He said, "Im not fit enough to start a game.
The gaffer and I have spoken about it a few times recently and I only
started the match away at Queen of the South a few weeks ago because of
injuries and suspensions. Ive been out for six months and only
played four games since then and my last one was two-and-a-half weeks ago,
so Im well short of match fitness. The only way Ill get that
back is through playing but because were Saturday, Tuesday and then
Saturday, Tuesday again there are no reserve matches for me to play in. So
Im only really able to help out by going on the bench and coming on
if required. Its not a perfect scenario but Im delighted to
just be involved after my knee injury. The manager wanted to go for it on
Saturday and I managed to get a couple of flick-ons. It was a gamble that
didnt quite pay off but we didnt lose anything either. I cant
say that striker is a position I particularly enjoy. I prefer to have the
game in front of me. Sometimes for 10 minutes it can create a bit of havoc
though. When you are going all out for the win you need to just get the
ball in the mixer, shall we say. I helped out at the back against Morton
when there was an injury to Kevin Rutkiewicz
and Im happy to help out whenever and wherever needed. "
As for the season he's not given up on the league yet and continued, "Yes, its a slim chance but its still our priority. People will say weve no chance but well keep fighting, and obviously its great to still be involved in the Scottish Cup as well. We need to win tomorrow night and do our best to put some pressure on Dundee and Hamilton. Well take a lot of positives out of Saturdays match. An SPL team came here and we limited them to one chance. "
The Courier reports that Steven Anderson and Liam Craig are suspended tonight although that doesn't seem to tie in with reports from elsewhere. Derek McInnes is looking for a committed game tonight and he told the paper, "There are still 27 points to play for and Queen of the South turned us over the last time we played them. In my time as manager its probably the only game that we havent deserved anything. Theres also the fact that there are places to play for in the cup replay, so there shouldnt be a problem with motivation. I was pleased with the performance and commitment at the weekend and well look forward to the replay when it comes round. Individually and as a team we were excellent and I want us to continue with that form against Queen of the South "
11.30pm- Good and bad news tonight. A Peaso brace saw us come back from losing a soft goal to beat Queen of the South 2-1., but the game was marred by what seemed to be a serious head knock to Andy Jackson which saw play held up for five minutes as he was stretchered off the park. He's reported to be okay though and was conscious when leaving the ground, but he's off for an overnight stay in Ninewells (no doubt picking up a multitude of coagie bacteria into the bargain). After the game, the gaffer told the Official Site, "They showed a real mentality to keep going tonight and get the win. That wasnt our best performance in recent weeks not by a long way but there was a resilience and trust amongst the players that carried them through when it looked like it might not be our night. We have had to come back from being a goal down a few times recently and shows a good character. All the players played their part tonight including the substitutes. It was a heavy pitch so guys like David Weatherston and Kevin Moon were able to inject a little bit of freshness when they came on. Barry Wilson also swung over some great crosses in the second half."
10th - Jody Morris(right) has
revealed he didn't know Saturday's game was going to a replay and was all
set for extra-time. The midfielder told the Courier, "I wasnt
sure if it was going into extra time or not, but I was feeling fine and
ready to go. I only discovered it was all over when all the other lads
started walking off and shaking hands and stuff. I would have been able to
play on, although I still need to get a bit sharper and am not yet 100%
fit. The conditions were very Scottish likeit was really windybut
I still enjoyed it and it was a good cup tie. I thought we could have won
and even when they got goal back I hoped we could still nick it. While
there is a feeling of disappointment in the dressing room that we are not
through, we still feel we can go there and get the right result in the
replay. For me to get into a semi-final would be unbelievable and if we
get past St Mirren we could be facing a massive club like Rangers. I have
played against top players before and would relish the chance to do so
"My wife is pregnant back home and the baby is due on March 24. Ideally she would like me to come back for couple of days, but I want to stay up here for as long as possible and get settled in. I have been sitting by the phone most of the time and, dont get me wrong, if it all starts I will be back down like a shot, but I want to stay here for as long as I can. The gaffer said I could go back for a couple of days and I might do that but I will not be taking liberties and want to do the right thing by the club and the manager. "
6.30pm - With the usual fantastic planning, the St Mirren replay a week tomorrow has for some strange reason been made an all-ticket encounter. Prices are £16 for adults and a tenner for concessions. No word yet on when exactly you'll be able to get your briefs but they should be on sale by the end of this week - so hopefully there will be no problems with postal delays for those of us in far-flung parts of the country. Finally, one game that has been confirmed is the re-re-arranged league match with Clyde. It's been moved to Tuesday March 25th with a 7.45pm kick-off.
March 8th - With old rivalries
and grudges apparently being hyped up for the cup match today,
Peaso is trying to keep clear of it
after more bad blood was remembered with his clash with Andy Millen at
Love St three years ago which earned him a red card. The Saints striker
told the Courier, "I was a bit younger then and it was a bit of
stupidity on my part. I tackled Andy when I should never have done so. He
was an experienced pro and played me like a piano and I couldnt take
it. I lost my temper and saw red. I am definitely not proud of that
moment, but we learn from our mistakes, dont we? Now I have a lot of
respect for him. To still be capable of playing in the Premier League at
42 is something to be proud of. Last year it was such a good achievement
to get to the semi-final against Celtic at Hampden. We were always
confident going into the cup-ties, be they against SPL teams or not. After
giving Falkirk a drubbing at their own stadium we then went on to beat
Motherwell in the quarters. I remember scoring the goal that set us on our
way at Fir Park. It all happened so quickly. I didnt connect
brilliantly with the ball and the only thing I could do was guide it
towards goal and it was great to see it go in. I think after that game a
lot of people thought we could do something. We gave Celtic a wee shock in
the semi-final and I think they thought it was going to be easy when it
He reckons we have as good a chance this season giving a quick rundown of the side for the benefit of the BBC reporters, "We have a good mixture of experience and young talent and everybody believes in their team-mates. We have a few winners in the team and thats always a bonus. Paul Sheerin is there and hes magic, while the arrival of Jody Morris has added another touch of class. Watching Jody in training you can see his quality and all he needs is match sharpness. His CV is certainly good but hes not come here for moneyhes come here to play football and loves it. He has a wife and kid and his missus is pregnant and due to give birth in a couple of weeks, so he has taken a risk to come up here at this time. His attitude has been spot on. Sometimes people who have been at bigger clubs disrespect some boys, but hes come in and shown us all respect and joined in. Its good to have him around. Barry Wilson is here, too, and he has a fair strike on him and has shown that over the years. Andy Jackson is another possible match winner who has been on fire this season. Wee Jacko has been brilliant and has been hard to shift from the forward line. Jason Scotland was a big loss and has since proved his quality at Swansea, but Andy has hit form at the right time for us. Once he learns his trade here I think, like Jason, he will go on to bigger things. His form has forced me to play a wide left role but I have been in the team every week and would be happy to play in goal if that meant starting matches."
Derek McInnes is looking for us to bounce back from the defeat at Dens and he told the paper, "There was a disappointment at the club after that defeat but we have had the post-mortem and its in the past now. As difficult as this tie will be, we see it as a great opportunity to get to Hampden. If we are right and given our fantastic home recordthree defeats in three yearswe will have a good chance. We need to start well, though. We didnt get going until the second half on Saturday and in the last three games we have lost the first goal "
6.30pm - Liam Craig(right) gave us the lead from the spot after Goran Stanic was upended but Dornan scored a barely deserved equaliser for St Mirren as we drew 1-1 in the Scottish Cup Quarter Final to go to a replay on the 18th, which means the Clyde game will be rearranged. After the game, Derek McInnes said, "There is a real sense of disappointment in the dressing room at the moment but I cannot fault the players. I felt they did everything we asked of them before the game they were winning headers, second balls and tackles and they showed a real appetite for the game. It took a penalty to give us the half time lead but I thought we deserved it because we had a few half-chances and had loads of possession, free kicks and corners. We spoke about trying to deny them possession and although they started the second half strongly we got back into it again. It was a soft goal from our point of view which was disappointing but credit to St Mirren who changed their shape in a bid to stay in the cup. Overall, Im delighted with the response to the defeat at Dens Park and we still have every chance of progressing to the last four"
March 7th -With
another game against St Mirren, it's no surprise that
Alan Main(right) is the centre of
attention with the Saints keeper not exactly the favourite opposition
player of the Paisley mob. He told the Courier, "It seems as
though I have a bit of history with fans of most clubs and that certainly
includes the St Mirren supporters. I think that particular game against
Dundee United is where it all stems from. We were winning quite
comfortably but then Paul Hartley got sent off in the second half and
things started to go wrong for us. From what I can remember, there was a
cross that came into the box and Jim Hamilton got his hand on to it to
deflect it. I may have been partly to blame but I dont think any of
the other goals were anything to do with me. I went out to win that match
against United just like any other one, but it wasnt to be. We then
played St Mirren in a friendly at Love Street the following season and
they were laying into me for being a United fanthe mascot included.
Basically, I was getting stick for something that wasnt my fault. I
thought a season was based on more than one game anyway. To be honest, as
a keeper you are always going to get stick win, lose or draw. I am
quite prepared for it and if you cant take it you have a problem. I
am sure it will add to the game and the atmosphere is going to be good."
"The boys have done well over the last couple of seasons in the cups and hopefully it can be the same again. We also have a decent record at home, which could be a major factor. " He's looking to bounce back from last weekend and went on, "Looking back, I think there was one team who really wanted to win the game and it wasnt us. The good thing with football is that there is always another game in which to make amends. We have moved on from it now and all our focus is on this cup tie. This week we have been looking ahead rather than backwards. If we win this one then, all of a sudden, we find ourselves in a semi-final. Then you are only 90 minutes away from the ultimate thinga final at Hampden."
There are plent of injury problems for tomorrow (as per bloody usual), but both Rocco Quinn and Kevin James trained this week. Greg Cameron is still ruled out while Jamie McCluskey needs an operation and Daniel McBreen will have another injection for his knee injury.
5.30pm- Looking ahead to tomorrow's clash, Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "We are really looking forward to this one and I have told the players to make sure that they make the most of it. Whether you are someone like Alan Main who is 40 or Andy Jackson at 20 it is a great opportunity. In a footballer's career you maybe only get a good cup run on 3 or 4 occasions and tomorrow some of those players have the chance to make it to the Scottish Cup semi-final for a second successive season. There has been a big change in personnel since we met Celtic at Hampden Park last season but there are a few of the guys still here who will be involved tomorrow and I have been stressing to the others what a great occasion a national semi-final is. We enjoy playing at home and we must make the most of that advantage."
"St Mirren will also rightly think that this is a great chance for them but I feel they are favourites only in the respect that they play SPL standard opposition week in week out and are playing at that higher level more consistently. I feel that I have some SPL quality players in my team and we should not be overawed." Ando is hoping to make a return to the first team from suspension tomorrow. He said, "t has been frustrating sitting out the last two games and so it is good to be free of suspension, particularly for this cup game. When we reached the quarter finals last season we played Motherwell and I missed that one because of suspension as well! We proved last season that we can take on and beat SPL opposition home or away so we should approach tomorrow's game in a similar manner. With the crowd behind us we have a real opportunity to make it to the semi again."
We're the main highlights on Sportscene tomorrow night. Season tickets ain't valid though so it's £17 for adults, £10 for 16-18 yr olds,. £7 for OAPs and £6 for the kids to get into the East Stand. Admission to the Main stand is £19 / £10 / £7 / £6.
March 6th - No point in asking Hibs for permission for Sean Lynch to play in the cup tie this weekend - he's already been ruled out with a thigh strain. Elsewhere and youngster Bobby Barr has gone on loan to Albion Rovers to get some match experience.
March 4th - Saints have
confirmed that as well as Steven Anderson
and Liam Craig returning from
suspension, Jody Morris and
Barry Wilson are eligible to play this
weekend against St Mirren, while the club are seeking permission from Hibs
to allow Sean Lynch to take part,
although he's suffering from an ankle ligament injury picked up at Dens.
And as an added bonus, FIFA are having a conference at Gleneagles this
weekend so apparently we'll have Sepp Blatter and Michel
Platini in attendance for the cup tie (well for part of it anyway -
they've got to get back for the semi-final draw).
One player who won't take any further action this season is Andy Lawrie who needs an operation on his neck. His contract is up in the summer and he's expected to be one of the first in the summer clearout as we rebuild for next season.
Derek McInnes is looking to lift the players for the weekend and he told the Courier, "This is a big, big week for the club and for the players and there is no way we can afford to have a hangover from Saturday. We are facing an SPL side but we are at home and there is a real chance we can progress. This time next week we could be sitting here looking forward to a cup semi-final. I will focus on the positives from the Dundee game, when we came back strongly in the second half. We are already looking towards the St Mirren game. Everything is being geared towards that. The supporters were great at Dens and it was a real pity we couldnt reward them with the win we wanted. But win this weekend and we can still make it a memorable season for the fans. "
As for BrokenWindowGate, the manager would only say, "It was brought to my attention that a window had been broken and it will be dealt with internally. I was unaware of it at the time but it was obviously a sign of frustration."
3rd - Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) was
pretty depressed after Saturday's defeat. The Saints skipper told the
Courier, "If ever a game summed up our season, then its
this one. We are each given a job to do beforehand, and if people arent
willing to pick upor dont have the heart to pick upthen
you arent going to win games. You cannot afford to switch off, but
it seems that every time we get within touching distance we lose games.
And that tells me theres either not enough heart or we just dont
want it enough. Im not going to beat around the bush, because today
is a prime example of whats wrong. We come back from a goal down,
then three minutes later somebody lets Colin McMenaminone of their
smaller guysget a free header in the box. Then with Stuart Dougal
literally with his whistle to his mouth to end the game, Dundee sling a
hopeful ball into the area and again Colin is left to do what he did. If
he was six-foot odd and going in there bashing people out of the way then
fair enough, but the fact of the matter is weve twice allowed a guy
who isnt the biggest to get in there to score, and thats so
frustrating. Hamilton have succumbed to the pressure today, as have we.
Only Dundee of the top three have stepped up to the plate and got the
points when they were needed, and now they and Hamilton are neck-and-neck.
Im not giving up on promotion because if we were to win every
game from here on in on we might sneak throughbut its a long
Despite not naming anyone, the match reports all reckon that Goran Stanic was the culprit who didn't pick up his man for their goals. Meanwhile police aren't taking any further action after Saints promised an internal investigation as to why a £300 glass window was broken in the dressing room.
March 2nd - With Saints fans trying to get over the pain of yesterday's defeat, Derek McInnes gave his reaction in Scotland on Sunday saying, "I thought at one stage we were going to win it but good sides like Dundee never give up. It's a hard one to take.". Meanwhile there are rumours going round (and just now they are just that) of an apparent arrest in the dressing room after the game after one of the windows were broken (I know, you'd have expected it to be an award for interior decorating instead) - nothing confirmed as to who the alleged culprit was but expect this to possibly surface if true over the next few days.
1st -Steven Milne(right) is
quoted ahead of the Dundee game in the Courier today praising fellow
striker Andy Jackson. Speaking of how
Scotland appear to have missed out on his teammate's skills in favour of
the Republic of Ireland, he told the paper, "I think Jacko has
made up his mind. Hes had international recognition for Ireland and
not Scotland and hes sticking with things as they are. You cant
really blame him for thatbut Scotlands loss in the Republics
gain. Hes had a fantastic season and not just because of his goals.
Even when he hasnt scored hes played well. We always knew hed
make this sort of contribution at some stage but maybe the speed of his
progress has surprised people at the club. Last season he was coming on
and getting chances but not finding the net. This time hes been one
of our best players. "
Savo also spoke about new signing Jody Morris saying, "Bringing in someone of Jodys calibre is a marker of the managers intent. And hes a welcome addition to the squad, someone who can definitely contribute to our cause in the league and Scottish Cup. I made my debut for Plymouth on the first day of the 2004-2005 season against Millwalla game in which he also made his debut. He started, I got on as a substitute and the match was a boring 0-0. My recollection of Jody from then was that hes a tidy, sitting midfielder. But you only have to look at the clubs hes been at and the fact he played the number of games he did for Chelsea to realise that he is real quality ". As for today's vital encounter, he went on, "Its a massive game for us at Dens. We need to win pretty much all our matches and rely on the teams above us slipping up. The fact its Dundee this weekend of course makes winning even more important, especially when Hamilton also have a tough game and were hoping Queen of the South can do us a favour in that one. Were we to lose it, getting promoted would be really difficult. Wed have an awful lot to do. We need to throw people forward tomorrow and win. A draw is of no use to us. "
There's no more news on the team selection but speaking about the game, Derek McInnes simply said, "Our fans will turn out in great numbers and they have a part to play. They can really help us."
7pm - Saints were kicked in the teeth again as a poor defensive performance and a 94th minute winner saw uslose 3-2 at Dens while Accies managed a draw putting them eleven points clear of us with nine games to go. Jody Morris got our first goal with a header after coming off the bench while Andy Jackson seemed to have earned us a point. But in a repeat of our last derby at Dens we lost a late goal to leave with no points and a lot of hurt.
Top Of News
February 29th - More in the
Courier today from Derek McInnes on
his latest signing. It looks like Jody
Morris will take some part in tomorrow's big match at Dundee and the
manager said, "I possibly would involve Jody against Dundee. Hes
a naturally fit boy who just needs match sharpness and it could be we just
need to play him in order that he gets that.I realise that the first thing
people think when they hear the name Jody Morris is trouble. But you can
only take people as you find them and for me he has been the complete
opposite of that. He has impressed me in everything hes done and
maybe he just needs a wee break to get back into the game. Weve
nothing to lose with this. If it was down to money Jody wouldnt be
here. He just wants a way back into football. And once he gets his match
fitness theres no doubt hell show his quality."
The player himself is keen to repay the manager's faith and told the paper, "I feel I can play at the top level, no doubt about that. I finished the season last year training with Chelsea and wasnt out of place and when I went to Charlton for pre- season and they still had most of their Premiership players I more than held my own, so Im confident I can still compete with that standard of player. The way my career has panned out since I left Chelsea has been a letdown. Ive made mistakes and poor choices and I know Ive suffered because of them. When I left Chelsea I was the longest-serving player and they had offered me a five-year contract to stay. But I rejected it and one bad decision can change the course of your life. I was a Chelsea boy and it was a massive decision to leave but Id had enough of being the third midfielder. It was always Di Matteo, Wise then me and then it was Deschamps, Wise then me and after that it was Lampard, Petit and meI was always the third one on the list. I remember playing when Petit was out injured and we went on a great run but he was brought straight back into the team once he was fit again, even though wed won six or seven games. I remember how bad that made me feel. These days I appreciate that if I was the manager I probably wouldve done the same. But at that time I thought differently and reacted to it. "
"Ive kept in touch with the gaffer since he moved back up from Millwall and weve been talking quite a bit lately. We had a chat about my situation recently and I said to him that I was sick of sitting about waiting for people to get back to me. He just asked me if I fancied coming to St Johnstone with him and I jumped at the chance. This is a opportunity for me to get myself fit, go in the shop window and also help Del and the team here out. Ive got a massive amount of respect for him, hes been a good friend, and I like the way he thinks about the game. We talked a lot when we were at Millwall and I agree with his philosophy on the gamehe wants to play the ball on the ground and Im sure it will suit me. Its great to be involved in a club day-to-day again, to be in among players again and to have a Saturday to look forward to. My wife Louise is expecting our second child next month but Im going to stay up here as long as possible. Ill need to make sure my phone is on all the time because I dont want to miss the birth of my kid, but London is not that far away and I can get back quickly. Whats going on at home wont distract me, Im here to play football and am committed to this. Once the baby is born Ill be right back up because Im just desperate to play as many games as I can. I dont know what the future holds beyond the summer. Right now Im here to train and play with St Johnstone and well see what happens after that. Ive played a couple of games lately for Yeovil in their reserve side, just to get myself a bit fitter, so if the gaffer decides he wants me to play against Dundee Im ready and up for it. "
Things are looking a bit better for the weekend with Goran Stanic, Peaso and Steven Milne all training. Rocco Quinn is a doubt though after an ankle injury in training which required an x-ray.
6pm - More signings came on board this afternoon with the arrival of 36-yr old midfielder Barry Wilson(right) from Caley Thistle and 21-yr old full back/ midfielder Sean Lynch(far right)from Hibs. Both players are here on a 28-day emergency loan deal and are in the squad for tomorrow.
Not so good news for Jamie McCluskey who picked up another foot injury this morning. He's been to hospital for treatment but it looks like a repeat break of his metatarsal that kept him out recently for three months.
February 28th -The
injury worries are mounting for the weekend with flu set to rule out
Steven Anderson and
Liam Craig banned and
Greg Cameron out with a hamstring.
Added to that,Daniel McBreen is
doubtful while Rocco Quinn,
Goran Stanic have all missed some
training this week due to minor knocks.
Derek McInnes has strengthened his squad however with Jody Morris(right) signing up until the end of the season, despite an attempt to keep the deal secret. He told the Official Site, "I played with Jody at Millwall and have nothing but the highest regard for him. He has had a frustrating time of it this season - he did a pre-season with Charlton Athletic and it looked like they were going to take him on but they changed their mind at the last minute. He had a similar arrangement with MK Dons which also fell through and so I was delighted to offer him the chance to come up to Perth. The plan was that Jody would have a few days with us so that I could assess him before making any move - I've now had the chance to do that and I'm delighted we have managed to sign him today."
"I saw him at first hand at Millwall and he did nothing but impress me. He just needs a wee break to get back into the game and hopefully we can give him that. It is not about finances - Jody has given me a big commitment to come here. His wife is heavily pregnant and although I have offered him the chance to take an extra day off each week so he can spend enough time at home he has turned that down as he doesn't want to miss out on any aspect of what we do here. This arrangement helps, me, the club and the player and is very positive for everyone. He is a naturally fit guy and all he needs now is to gain some match sharpness - I have not ruled out the possibility of that starting on Saturday at Dens, particularly given our current injury situation."
February 27th - Strangest news
of the season today with the announcment that we're set to sign former
Chelsea kid and England U-21 international Jody
Morris on a short-term deal until the end of the season. The 29-yr
old midfielder who knows Derek McInnes
from his Millwall days, is a free agent and the manager said, "Jody
is training with us and we plan to sign him until the end of the season.
You dont play at the level he has without being a quality player and
hopefully we can get him up to speed, fitness wise, quite quickly. "
We'd also been linked with 35yr old Caley midfielder Barry Wilson but apparently it only went as far as an initial talk and is now dead in the water given the arrival of Jody Morris.
26th - Bad news for Saints with Liam
Craig set to miss out on the trip to Dens this weekend due to
suspension. Rocco Quinn(right) told the
Courier, "Thats a big blow as he has been a fantastic
player for us. Liam will be missed but we do have strength in depth in the
The on-loan Celtic midfielder went on, "There are 10 league games to go and we are looking for 10 winsits as simple as that. Its no use our getting one or two decent results then slipping up. We have beaten the top-of-the-table team at home then gone away and taken the three points against Morton in successive weeks. Now we need to carry it through to Dens. We have the momentum, self-belief and confidence. The manager and Tony Docherty have reassured us that the league is still there for us and thats given us the boost we needed. So I would like to think we can go to Dundee and win. They have been on a really good runall credit to them as they are a very good sidebut we have every confidence we are a decent side as well and we will be looking to win this one. Its a derby game and they are always massive but this match may be more so because we are right behind Dundee chasing them down. That probably adds even more spice to it. "
Derek McInnes simply said, "If both Dundee and Hamilton win on any given weekend and we dont then it looks extremely difficult for us. Maybe that gives an added edge to Saturdays game as we feel we cant slip up. Perhaps Dundee will think the same as they try to keep up with Hamilton. There are only 10 games to go and we need to win the majority of them to have even half a chance of promotion. But we looked a really hungry side at Morton and it was pleasing that we came from behind to win again. Ideally, you dont want to go a goal down like we did but it does show character to bounce back. We need to just look after ourselves and take it from there. "
Kevin Rutkiewicz tweaked his groin at Greenock but should recover for this weekend, while Kevin James suffered no effects from his appearance from the bench.
February 24th -
Steven Milne reckons his second goal
yesterday was the best of his career and paid tribute to
Andy Jackson for setting him up. He
told the Sunday Mail, "For the equaliser I hit the post with my
first attempt and I still don't know how I did it from such close range so
I was relieved to slide it in on the rebound. I don't think I've scored
many better than that one and Andy set me up nicely to run on and volley
Derek McInnes reckons we need the winning run to start now. "We've had a few good runs this season but only about four wins in a row and we need at least seven to be up there challenging. We are playing cup football if you like every week because we have to keep winning. We are a hard side to beat and have only lost four games this season but we really need to turn the draws into wins. "
February 23rd - Saints are
playing the guessing game with everyone about the team selection. Despite
being ruled out on the Official Site, the Courier today says that
Daniel McBreen might be involved in
the game at Cappielow. The striker himself is keen to get back after
limited appearances. He said, "Its been quite a frustrating
month or so for me, and Im just happy to be back training. Not that
Im counting, but Ive only played 110 minutes so fargetting
on as a sub once and 80 minutes of another game. But one operation and two
injections later the knee seems to be okay. And I cant wait to get
back out doing what I came here to doplay football. Im signed
till the end of the season, and the aim now is to get a few games under my
belt and get the offer of a new contract. Its a good set up here and
Im happy with the gaffer and the boys. If Derek McInnes wanted me to
stay longer Id definitely sit down and talk about it. After seeing a
few games here now I am surprised that St Johnstone are so far behind top
spot. Scratch out the Queen of the South game when we were terrible and
just look at how we played against Hamilton and Dundeetheres
no way there should be a 10-point difference between Hamilton and
"Whether we should be higher or they should be down closer to us Im not sure, but there definitely shouldnt be that big a difference between the two teams. The fact is though thats the gap we have to close and, to be honest, we cant afford any slips ups between now and the end of the season. We are really relying on them dropping quite a few points. Weve only got an outside chance, but at least we are still in there fighting and Im aware that St Johnstone closed an even bigger gap in the closing weeks of last season. I was watching their results quite closely at the time because Owen Coyle had tried unsuccessfully to sign me, and what happened then shows it can be donealthough if we could repeat that feat, this time hopefully no-one would score a last minute goal on the final day to deny us. "
Stuart McCaffrey has been ruled out of an early return which means either Allan McManus or Kevin James to take over from the suspended Pamela in defence.
7pm - A double from Steven Milne (the second a candidate for goal of the season) saw us comeback to win 2-1 at Morton and keep the pressure up although Accies 3-1 win at home to Livi and a Scumdee 6-1 demolition of Stirling means that little has changed at the top. Oh aye and Daniel McBreen made his comeback off the bench and was unlucky not to score.
22nd - Alan Main(right) is in the
Courier today talking about this weekend's game and the problems affecting
his previous employers Gr£tna. He told the paper, "When I
took the opportunity to come back to St Johnstone rather than be looking
forward to SPL football this season with Gretna, people were questioning
me. But I knew I was making the right move. I knew I was coming to a
stable, well-run football club. And Im enjoying life at St
Johnstone. I have never regretted the decision I made. This is a great
place to be. Winning is at the forefront of our minds and theres a
real passion about the place. Its unfortunate what has happened at
Gretna and hopefully Brookes Mileson will be back on his feet soon to get
things sorted out. What has occurred is sad because I had some good times
there. Everyone said it was a fairytale when Gretna got to the cup final
and reached the SPL. But I think we all knew it would end at some point.
We had experienced players in the dressing room at Gretna when we won
promotion to the first division, guys that just went out and played. But
that squad was dismantled and now they find themselves in a very difficult
position. For me, the fact theyve no fan base was always going to be
a problem. They thought theyd attract fans from Carlisle and Queen
of the South but that hasnt happened. And playing at Motherwell this
season hasnt helped because supporters dont like seeing their
team lose every week, without having to travel to see it. "
The keeper said little about Davie Irons after the acrimonious way he left Gretna (all sorts of rumours about fights in the dressing room) and as for the weekend he simply said, "It doesnt matter who is manager of Morton this weekend. This is another must-win match for us. We have no margin for error but believe we can keep winning games. We have to be positive and go to Greenock and get three points "
Meanwhile focussing more on Saints, Derek McInnes told the Courier what he wants from his players. "We have got to finish really strongly, not just do well or OK. A fantastic finish is required. By beating Hamilton last week weve given ourselves a chance. For as much as I wouldnt have wanted to admit it, had we not got that win then it would have been extremely difficult to overhaul them. But it is still going to be difficult for us and if we are to do it then well have to be winning not just here but on our travels as well. I dont concern myself when we are at home. We are more than capable of winning every game at McDiarmid Park between now and the end of the season. The challenge for us is winning our away games. Weve a difficult trip to Morton coming up this weekend. If we are bang at it and up for the fight then Im confident well create enough chances to win. If we arent then we wont get the result we need. Since losing at Queen of the South weve won at Ross County and then beat Hamilton with a real gutsy performance. Now well have to show similar qualities at Cappielow."
No decision yet who'll replace the suspended Steven Anderson in defence. Allan McManus, Kevin James and Stuart McCaffrey are all in contention after playing in the reserves but the former is arguably the more match fit. Daniel McBreen has trained this week so could make the bench. One player not going to be seen at McD though is trialist Marco Michetschlager. The manager said, "Hes as good as the other 18-year-olds we have at the club but wouldnt be anywhere near our first-team at this stage so hes heading home"
7pm - Another team update as Greg Cameron looks set to miss out with a hamstring injury picked up in training yesterday. The Official Site also expects Daniel McBreen to miss out as he's short of match fitness.
February 20th - Last night's
reserve game was abandoned after 77 minutes due to fog but it was still
plenty of time for Saints to be losing 2-0. On the plus side,
Kevin James and
Stuart McCaffrey both played along
with Jamie McCluskey while Marco
Michetschlager was used as a left-back.
Meanwhile the big sports story today is set to have an "I told you so" quote doing the rounds in the Perth boardroom with Gr£tna set to go into administration with rumours of a potentially much worse fate for the SPL club. It would also mean that their players would be available on emergency loan deals something which could interest both Saints and this weekend's opponents Morton.
February 19th - Saints play East
Fife in the reserve League Cup tonight and a new face will be on show as
Austrian U-19 international Marco Michetschlager is given a trial.
The 18-year old left-sided midfielder was at TFOD for 6 months after
arriving from Admira Wacker but failed to make the breakthrough.
Derek McInnes told the Courier, "Marco
is with us for a week and hell play against East Fife so we can see
him in action. If we can get another game fixed up next week he will play
in that as well. He is young but Marco has been recommended to me by
people at Rangers so we are happy to take a look. He can play in left
midfield or at left-back ". Kevin
James and Stuart McCaffrey
will also get a runout and kick-off at McD is 7.45pm
Meanwhile Tony Docherty says there is still plenty to do before we can be considered to be in the mix for the title. He said, "Were not kidding ourselves about how big an ask it isits a clichebut we just have to take things one game at a time, starting with Morton this weekend. Ive got to give the boys great credit for Saturday. It was a game we knew we had to win. We had some great chances in the first half and they scored with their first one. At half-time we told the players not to come in at full- time having lost because we haven't really gone for it. The lads showed great character and I think everybody at the game would think we deserved the win. Kevin Moon, Steven Milne and Paul Sheerin all played their part and had an impact on the match. Substitutions are an important part of the game. Players are on the bench for a reason and you need to identify which way a games going. Its definitely a squad game these days, especially when you have quality substitutes to bring on. "
5.30pm - Saints have confirmed that the rearranged Clyde game (postponed due to the cup quarter-final) will be played at McDiarmid on Tuesday March 18th with a 7.45pm kick-off. Closer to home and Saturday's trip to Cappielow has taken on some added spice with the news that Willie McLaren's favourite punchbag Davie Irons has quit the sinking ship SS Gretna to take over the reins at Morton. That should make things a bit more interesting.
18th - Liam Craig(right) reckons
the boys showed a lot of character at the weekend in their comeback
against Accies. The scorer of the first goal told the Courier, "It
would have been an injustice if wed got nothing from the game.
Hamilton have had one shot in the first half and its been a great
one thats beaten Alan Main. But weve
came back from that and shown just how much we want to compete for
promotion. Hamilton are so far in front its going to be hard to
catch them. But while Id rather be in their position that ours,
theres still 11 games to go and well keep plugging away. ".
As for his goal, he went on, "When
Peaso played it I thought the keeper
was going to come outhe should have, to be honestbut he stayed
put and I fancied myself to beat him. Its a good job I did, though,
because Tony Docherty would have killed me if Id missed as I do that
every day in training! "
Derek McInnes told the paper, "We needed a performance full of guts to win the game and we gave it. Hamilton arent top of the league by accident and normally when they go in front they are difficult to get the better of. But Im delighted at how the boys kept going to get a fantastic winone that keeps us with something to strive foralthough its still going to be extremely difficult to reel Hamilton back in. All we can do is take it game by game. Hamilton have the luxury of being able to have a couple of days like this and still be top of the leaguewe have to keep on winning. "
February 17th - Peaso praised the gaffer's half-time talk yesterday for spurring us on to the win. He told the Sunday Mail, "The gaffer told us at half-time it was time to stand up and be men. He asked: 'Do you want to be out of the race at full time or still have something to aim for?' We showed what we wanted. It was a must-win game and we showed great spirit to battle back from a goal down ". The manager himself said, "The performance was full of commitment and it's great still to have something to play for. Liam Craig was outstanding but everyone played their part. The most pleasing thing was we didn't give up. "
16th - Steven Anderson(right)
plays his last game for a few weeks today as Accies come to town and guess
what - he says we can't afford to slip up. Placing the curse of the
pre-match comment on the boys, he told the Courier, "We have to
beat Hamilton no matter what, we cant afford even a draw. And being
realistic we need to win not just this game but every single game between
now and the end of the season if we are to have any chance of promotion
because weve got two teams to catch. We are capable of doing that
though with the players weve got. Losing to Queen of the South was
hard to take. If wed won at Palmerston wed have had the chance
to reduce Hamiltons lead to seven points by beating them this
weekend. But we just have to get on with it. "
He missed out last week after a daft red card for the reserves which will rule him out of the forthcoming trips to Cappielow and Scumdee. He went on, "I deserved the flak I got for the red card. It was stupid on my part especially when we didnt have enough fit defenders to cover for my absence last week. I knew I was one booking away from a two match ban under the totting up procedure. So to get myself sent off in a reserve game wasnt the smartest thing to do. I know I let the manager and the team down. Now I want to get back in the gaffers good books before serving the second part of my suspension. I did all right back in against Ross County during the week and hopefully Ill retain my place against Hamilton. But I realise that with Kevin James and Stuart McCaffrey on the way back from injury I may have caused myself a problem. I think we need to get a settled back four. You are always going to get suspensions and injuries but by and large you require a solid defensive base otherwise thats when you get mistakes. And if the manager feels the same way and someone comes in and does well in my absence then I could lose out. "
Saints have no injury worries and assistant boss, Tony Docherty told the paper, "We got passion and commitment from them on Tuesday and that was very pleasing. Its very important we get off on the right foot. Hamilton are a good side and they have strength in depth. But were at home and were always confident here at McDiarmid Park. We have a good record here and we want to keep that good run going. "
7pm - Despite going behind to a Gilhaney fluke, goals from Liam Craig and Peter MacDonald saw us beat Accies 2-1 to keep the title race going.
February 15th - Saints gaffer
Derek McInnes seems to be pretty
confident these days and is hopeful we'll make back-to-back semi-finals
for the first time in our history. He told the Courier, "I was at
Tannadice and although United had some good chances, I thought St Mirren
probably deserved it. They were really tenacious, dogged, hard working and
broke at pace. Regardless of which one of the sides got through it was
going to be a difficult tie for us in the quarter-finals. But were
at home which is pleasing because weve a fantastic record at
McDiarmid Park. And just as St Mirren will see this as an opportunity to
reach the semi-finals then so will we. As a Premier League team theyll
be favourites and after going to Tannadice and winning you have to respect
them. But itll be a competitive match and if we play to our
capabilities then well pose them problems ". The Arabs'
exit means that Greg Cameron will be
available for the quarter-final.
Looking ahead to tomorrow's big clash with Accies, the manager went on, "After one or two poor results, by their standards, Hamilton have got back on track. And they are a good side, make no mistake about that. But weve got to look to make it as difficult as possible for them and do all we can to get the three points we need. ". Daniel McBreen is ruled out after getting an injection in his knee yesterday but Rocco Quinn should make his home debut (again!). And the midfielder admitted he didn't know anything about his return to Saints until last Wednesday while he was on U-21 duty. "It was a surprise coming back to Saints. I got a call from the manager here when I was in Portugal and everything went through when I got home. I had no hesitation whatsoever in returning to Perth because there was unfinished business. We are in the middle of something here and theres a lot to play for with our reaching the quarter- finals of the cup and still pushing for the title. "
February 13th -
Derek McInnes was fairly upbeat
following last night's cup win. He told the Sun, "County are a
team I have every respect for and they came into the game with the
confidence that eight wins in a row brings to any side. The goal
epitomised our performance as fortunate as it was. The harder you work,
the luckier you get."
10pm - Tonight's cup match saw St Mirren edge out the Arabs by a single goal to set up the media-friendly "Battle of the Saints" headlines at McDiarmid on the 8th March for a place in the semi-finals.
12th - The boys head to Dingwall tonight (while the majority of us
make do with updates from the Radio Scotland show - we're not even the
live commentary). Kevin Rutkiewicz(right)
told the Courier that he expects a tough match. The defender, back from
suspension tonight, said, "Weve been doing well in recent
weeks and were on a good run of form, but Queens were the better team from
start to finish, and it hurts your pride to say that. Thats how it
was, though, and you cant shy away from it. As much as we want to
play football and be a nice team to watch, we have to add that nasty
streak to our game. Sometimes you dont get to go out and spray the
ball about and it is more about rolling you sleeves up. Dingwall has
always been a notoriously difficult place to go, and a Tuesday night cup
tie there is never going to be a pretty match. Saturdays match was
similar to what we can expect tomorrow night, so hopefully we have learned
our lesson. Work ethic combined with a bit of class should hopefully see
us through. Weve drawn a line under our defeat at Queens because
tomorrows is a massive game in its own right and if we win it well
give the players and the fans a match to look forward to against Premier
League opposition at McDiarmid. "
County have been banging in the goals though and he went on, "Theyve been blowing teams away since the turn of the year and have got players who have played in the Premier League and first division. Its a long trip back, especially in midweek when you expect to return in the early hours of the morning, and we want to make sure its a happy bus and were in the quarter-final. Both teams want to have a crack at either St Mirren or Dundee United on their own pitch and will be using it as part of the motivation for the game."
Derek McInnes reckons he's done his homework. The manager told the paper, "Saturday was a poor performance but we cant let it hang over us as weve got another important game coming up. We did the Queen of the South post mortem yesterday and got it out of the way because this is too big a match to have any sort of hangover. We will have to perform much better than we did on Saturday or well be out of the cup because were playing a team in really good form. Ive had various reports prepared on them and Ive watched them myself. Although well respect them and know what their capabilities are its important we play like we have been in recent weeks, not how we played on Saturday. "
9.30pm - Liam Craig got the goal as we won 1-0 at Dingwall to move to the quarter-finals in the cup.
February 10th - Not too much by
the way of coverage from the Saints point of view yesterday. The
after-effects from Saturday's defeat are still being felt and
Derek McInnes told the Official Site,
"It was a poor performance on Saturday and I was disappointed
that I felt the opposition maybe wanted to win it a wee bit more than us
and that is not something I have been able to level at my players since I
took over. I felt we were only ever on the front foot once our double
substitution was made and we caused them problems for a short while before
they killed the game off. If we had managed to add to Jacko's goal during
that spell I would have taken a draw but we wouldn't have merited it."
Focus now is on Dingwall tomorrow night and he went on, "The game
against Ross County is too big a fixture to let Saturday's disappointment
hang over us. I'm thankful that we are back in action so quickly again but
I have stressed to the players that there needs to be a big improvement
against a side playing with a lot of confidence and scoring goals
regularly. If there isn't then we will be out of the cup. It takes
different characteristics to win games and we will have to roll our
sleeves up tomorrow night and dig in but play with a confidence that
reflects our run of fine form prior to Saturday."
Rocco Quinn is cup-tied tomorrow but Kevin Rutkiewicz and Steven Anderson will return. Elsewhere Martin Hardie was due back in training today.
9th - Kevin James(right) looks
set to start today as suspensions hit our defence. Despite just having 2
reserve games under his belt, the skipper said in the Courier, "The
suspension problems mean weve really only one fit centre-half, in
Allan McManus, because neither
Stuart McCaffrey nor myself are
fully over our injuries. But if asked to play, I will. In an ideal world,
after being out for six months, Id have liked another two or three
matches under my belt. But we dont live in an ideal world and
unfortunately I may be needed now. Im fine with thatits
not a problem. Id prefer to be a bit more match fit but Im
experienced enough to handle the situation. We have to go and win to keep
our title challenge on track. The lads have done well over the last few
weeks to cut the gap. But we need to keep progressing. Queen of the South
are in similar form to ourselves, but if you want to win the league you
have to go to places like Palmerston and get a result. The situation we
are in means we cant afford slip-ups. Even before
Derek McInnes took over we hadnt
been losing many matches. But the story of our season has been putting
together a couple of good wins, suffering a minor setback then getting
back to winning ways. If we want to go one better than last season, we
need to get on a run now "
Congratulations too to Andy Jackson who picked up the Irn Bru young player of the month award for January. Derek McInnes said, "Im over the moon for Andy. Its nice for players to be recognised. Hes been doing well and is a real spark for us. Hes a confident boy who enjoys training and puts in a lot of hard work. "
7pm - As usual, just when you think you're about to get a wee bit of hope and consistency into your season, along come Saints with the sort of performance that reminds you why we've been stuck in this league for so long. Yes it was crappiest performance of the season today as a half-hearted Saints side went down 3-1 to QoS at Palmerston with Andy Jackson scoring our consolation goal. Kevin James managed the full ninety minutes unscathed while Rocco Quinn played the second-half to mark his return to the club. Elsewhere Accies stretched their lead at the top with a 3-0 humping of the Pars while Scumdee shared the points with Livi. Not a good day at the office.
8th - As Saints head to Palmerston tomorrow,
Kevin Moon(right) is in the Courier today
talking about emulating another local midfielder from a few years ago. The
Mooner said, "It was good
getting my first Saints goal at Clyde but it was a bigger thrill scoring
the winner coming off the bench against Stirling. I know I have to work on
my finishing after missing a few chances in the cup tie with Raith and Ive
been doing extra shooting and finishing after training. I watched Fizzy
Scott here as a youngster and he scored plenty of goals from midfield.
Thats something I want to become known for. I didnt expect to
start many games this season. I would have been happy just to be involved
in the squad. But getting games has boosted my confidence, which had
already had a lift with the things the manager said about me when he took
over, and seeing Andy Jackson doing so
well has been a real inspiration. Andys
progress here shows that if youre producing the goods youll
get a chance. It was unfortunate I picked up the back injury, but a visit
to the chiropractor seems to have sorted that out. "
As usual, Derek McInnes is also full of praise for him and he said, "Mooner is doing greateverything and more than I expected of him to be honest. He is someone I have every faith in and the more experience he gets the better hell get. As he grows in confidence and learns to be a more dominant personality on the park, more demanding of the ball, then hell flourish."
With both Kevin Rutkiewicz and Steven Anderson ruled out tomorrow (the latter also set to miss the Morton and Dundee games in a few weeks), Saints were boosted yesterday with the return to training of Stuart McCaffrey, Jamie McCluskey andDaniel McBreen. The manager went on, "A couple of weeks ago it looked like we had too many central defenders; now we are a bit short. But I knew when we brought Stuart McCaffrey in that three of the boys were carrying a high number of disciplinary points and, therefore, having people banned was on the cards. Were fortunate to have the likes of Stuart and Kevin James available to ease the problem weve got ". He's expecting a tough match as well. "Queen of the South, like ourselves, are on a good run and itll be a fiercely-contested game. I watched them in the cup against Morton last week and for me they were always going to win the match. They played with confidence and were very effective. They also have bags of experience, having a number of boys whove won this division before in their ranks. But were in decent form ourselves. "
7pm - The manager pulled off a nice wee surprise tonight with the announcement that Rocco Quinn has returned to Saints on one of those emergency loan deals which will see him through till the end of the season. The gaffer told the Official Site, "Im delighted to get Rocco back into the fold. I had a fear that someone else would snap him up during January but that didnt happen and it is to our benefit. Rocco was prepared to stay with us and I am sure he will come back with the same hunger to do well for us and improve his game at the same time. Rocco knows how highly I rate him and I am sure both parties will benefit from this arrangement"
February 6th - Bad news confirmed with Steven Anderson now suspended for the weekend league match against Queen of the South after his red card. Even worse is he's now through the barrier so is set for a longer ban later in the month. Only other news is the confirmation that Derek McInnes won't be pursuing any interest in David Winters.
February 5th - Last night's
reserve match finished 2-2 with a double from
David Weatherston cancelled out by
two goals conceded in the last four minutes. The good news was that
Kevin James played for the full 90
minutes while Jamie McCluskey
managed an hour. The bad news though was that we finished with ten men
following a straight red for Steven
Anderson. Nobody seems certain whether or not that means a
suspension for the trip to Dumfries at the weekend but with
Kevin Rutkiewicz already forced to sit on
the naughty step for this one, it's a hassle we could do without.
Finally, congratulations to Kevin Cuthbert who became a Dad on Sunday night.
February 4th - There's a Reserve League Cup game at McDiarmid tonight as Saints take on Arbroath. Saints will field a strong side including Kevin James hoping for another 90 minutes while it is also going to mark a return for Jamie McCluskey who should play for about an hour as he makes his comeback from his broken foot. Also taking part will be a trialist in the form of David Winters. The former Accies front man was freed at Xmas and Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "David has negotiated out of his contract with Hamilton and his assessing his options. I am pleased to offer him the chance to play tonight but that may be as far as it goes.". The gaffer didn't stay idle at the weekend either. "We had expected that the game would be called off although I hadnt relayed that to the players as I didnt want it to affect their preparations. However I got a call early on Saturday morning to say that the game was off so we just had to head back down. All our focus is now on Saturdays trip to Dumfries. I took in their game at Morton on Saturday and it was a convincing win. They are a good side playing with a great deal of confidence as their recent form shows and it will be an exceptionally tough game at Palmerston"
February 3rd - Despite only three teams through for sure, the draw for the Scottish Cup quarter-finals were made today. And if we manage to beat Ross County a week on Tuesday, Saints will be at home to either St Mirren or Dundee United.
February 2nd -
Gary Irvine is looking forward to a
return to a familiar ground today as Saints take on Ross Co with the
defender heading back to where he spent 6 months on loan last season. He
told the Courier, "This is a tie Ive really been looking
forward to because I had good times up there and my best friend Paul
Lawson is at Ross County. Paul and I came through the ranks together at
Celtic and theres been a fair bit of banter between us this week.
Going on loan to Ross County was my first real taste of the big world and
it turned out to be a steep learning curve, with their having to dig out
results to try and avoid relegation. But I enjoyed every minute with them.
They are a great wee club. The move was a culture shock for mestarting
with the first time I travelled up that A9. Having been brought up amongst
all the luxury you have as a Celtic player moving to Ross County was an
eye opener. And it was always so cold there. But I look back on my time
with them as an entirely positive experience. ".
"My grandad, who follows me every week, and my dad are planning to head up to Dingwall for the game. So fingers crossed the game survives the snow thats been forecast. Between the distance involved in travelling up there and the fact Ross County are on a good run this has all the makings of a tough tie for us. But if they are confident after recent results then so are we. "
Derek McInnes isn't taking the 2nd Division club lightly either. "Weve given Ross County every respect. Ive watched them myself and had other reports prepared on them. And I know well need to play really well to get through. But like them we are viewing the tie as an opportunity to progress. "
9am - As expected, though, the weather has again killed off the tie with snow last night causing a postponement. The game has been rearranged for Tuesday 12th February.
1st -Paul Sheerin has closed in
on a record this season without anyone really noticing. The Saints
midfielder is two spot-kicks short of the 12-in-a-row record for the club
set by Andy McCall in 1937. Sheerinho
hasn't scored in open play since he notched one against County in November
2006 and he told the Courier, "remember that game. We were two-up
and cruising but let them come back at us. Its amazing how many
chances Ive had to score from the spot this season when you consider
I only got two penalties last season and missed one of them at Dundee. But
with guys like Andy Jackson and
Steven Milne troubling defenders in the
box maybe well get a few more this season. It would be nice to beat
the club record. I should really have 11 by now, of course, but for some
reason Id one chalked off at Livingston and Im still baffled
by that decision. Its nice to have 10 goals but it has been
frustrating not getting a goal from open play and Ive had a bit of
stick over that in the dressing room. But since the gaffer took over Ive
been playing a bit deeper which doesnt help my chances of putting
the situation right. Its not something thats bothering me
though, because in years to come the record books will only show the
number of goals Ive got there wont be any mention of the
fact they are all penalties! "
The boys head up to Inverness today boosted by the news that Kevin James has been added to the squad. The team will overnight in a hotel ahead of the game which is already in doubt. Derek McInnes said, "If there is a problem with the gameand I believe heavy snow is forecast for Friday and Saturdaythen wed like to know as early as possible. But we want it to go ahead and if we have to wait until Saturday morning and give it every chance then thats fine. Obviously well have incurred the expense of staying overnight but the most important thing is that we prepare properly. "
The game is already in doubt for tomorrow with an 8.45am pitch inspection planned. Liam Craig(right) knows how difficult things will be though. He told the Official Site, "It is a hard place to go and try to win. It's a tight pitch and the weather looks as if it will play a part as well. I was up there two seasons ago with Falkirk for a Scottish Cup match. We drew the first game at the Falkirk Stadium - funnily enough it was only a late Daniel McBreen goal which got us the draw - and then we managed to win the replay up there but it was hard going. However, we should be heading up to Dingwall with plenty of confidence. We have only lost one goal in the time I have been here and we are playing some good football if we apply ourselves properly there is no reason we cannot progress." As for our chances he'd like an improvement on his time with Falkirk. He went on, "After we beat Ross County in that tie a couple of years ago we got tanned 5-1 from Hibs in the quarter final and then last season, of course, we lost 3-0 at home to Saints so I could do with a change of luck in this competition!" He's out of contract in the summer and said of his future, "I've got John to thank for giving me the chance to break into the first team football at Falkirk and even although I ended up out of the picture there earlier this season there was no big fall out or anything with him - we get on very well. I've now got Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty to thank for bringing me on here. I feel it is only in the past couple of weeks that I have realised the way I need to play my football to suit the First Division. You are not afforded the time on the ball you get in the SPL but you do get more goal scoring chances. Hopefully I will continue to learn in the months ahead and we'll see where that takes me for next season."
Top Of News
January 31st - Looks like no new
signings today. Saints matched the Morton valuation of Chris Millar
but their manager has gone all huffy and decided to keep him for the rest
of the season while a move for a striker has also fallen through.
Derek McInnes told the Official Site,
"Im disappointed and frustrated because we have met Mortons
most recent valuation of the player, the player wants to come here and
Morton had indicated that provided they secured a transfer target of their
own which they have done then Chris could come to us.
However, there has now been a change of heart. I can understand why they
want to keep him and he is their player so they are within their rights to
do so but it is frustrating. However, Chris will be with us for next
season and he will be a good addition. We were quite far down the line
with the pursuit of another striker but his club has now indicated that
they want him to stay so that proposed deal is at an end"
"Im happy with the squad we have here at the moment. Yes, it would have been nice to freshen things up a bit but I am about to have several players back from injury within the next few weeks and they will be like new players to me. I can also still bring in new faces on a loan basis if needs be so disappointed as I am about the outcome of today's efforts Im very positive about how things are looking."
30th - With the transfer window closing tomorrow at midnight,
there's still no sign of Chris Millar making an early move to
Perth. According to the Courier, Morton wanted £7,000 for an early
release, we offered £5,000 and now they want £10,000 (welcome to
Accountancy Greenock-style) with the player apparently back in McInally's
good books. Stewart Duff told the paper,
"Morton quoted us a fee which we were not prepared to pay but we
made them what we regarded was a fair offer bearing in mind the player is
out-of-contract at the end of the season when he can leave for nothing.
Morton chairman Douglas Rae then met the player and offered him an
improved contract to stay with them which the player turned down. At that
point Morton increased the requested fee to £10,000.".
Good news for Kevin James with the defender apparently coming through Monday's closed doors game unscathed.
5pm - While most of the focus has been on players coming in, Saints today announced two departures, neither of whom was much of a surprise. Dyron Daal(far right)has signed for lower league Spanish side CF Fuenlabrada, while Willie McLaren(right) has been released from his contract. Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "Dyron has not been featuring a lot for me and I felt it was better to let him move on. The opportunity has arisen for a move to Spain and he goes with our best wishes. Similarly Willie has not been involved much this season and he is not part of my future plans so we felt that it was in the best interest of both parties for him to be released so that he can find another club.". Both players, despite the hype surrounding their signings have been nothing more than fringe players and despite a decent run in the team before Xmas, Willie McLaren never seemed to do enough to show he was eager for a starting jersey. As for cult hero Dyron Daal, he never really got going with Saints and obviously recent disciplinary problems when he came off the bench have hastened his departure. Still the Temple wishes both players all the best for the future. The club are still hopeful of having a new face on board by tomorrow night.
January 29th - Confirmation from the club today that we have an international superstar in our midst with the revelation that Dyron Daal(right) is off to be play for the Dutch Antilles squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Nicuragua on Feb 6th and March 26th.
January 28th -
Liam Craig has owned up that he was
napping when Stirling got their equaliser at the weekend which was the
only downside on his performance (watched by Yogi Hughes in the stand).
The midfielder told the Courier,"I was pleased with how I played
but I have to take responsibility for the goal we lost because I havent
tracked the runner and it was him who scored. Wed spoken at
half-time about how they would come at us and it was my fault. Alan Main
was making his 300th appearance and was hoping to get a clean sheet. He
didnt need me making it harder for him. I apologised to him after
the match and I apologised to all the players because that one moment of
me not concentrating could have cost us the league. Getting the win was
the most important thing and I think we showed great character to bounce
back from that goal and dig it out. Its nice to win the way we beat
Livingston 5-2 here, but were now showing we can do the dirty side
of the game and win tight, scrappy matches. "
Derek McInnes meanwhile praised matchwinner Kevin Moon in the same paper. "Hes missed chances in games when weve been ahead, but when weve needed him hes scored a great goal to win us the match. It was some of the younger players who drove us on and Kevin gave us a real spark. Liam Craig was magnificent all afternoon and drove us forward with energy and purpose. I cant praise the players highly enough. We lost a cheap goal and could have felt sorry for ourselves but we bounced back and weve won a game without being at our best. Thats three league wins in a row, which is something weve not done all season. I wouldnt waste my time saying it if I didnt believe we could go on the sort of run which will put pressure on Hamilton and Dundee. Weve also still got some important players to come back from injury at the right time "
7pm - More recognition for Andy Jackson with the Saints striker named as a standby for the Republic of Ireland U21 squad to play England next week in Southampton. Kevin James played in a closed doors game against Hibs today while Killie's Ian Campbell (Son of the Bunnet) also had a run out as he tries to win a deal. We lost 2-1 with Kevin Moon getting our goal.
The club also confirmed that Gary Irvine picked up a hip knock against the Binos at the weekend but he should be fine for the trip to Dingwall.
26th - Peaso(right) is
looking for Saints to notch up their first win of the season over Stirling
today as we aim to keep up with the league leaders. The striker told the
Courier, "Our game against Dunfermline was the toughest one out
of ourselves, Dundee and Hamilton, and we came through it with a great
win. It was a battling performance and was a match we would probably have
drawn a month or so ago. Now weve started off a wee runa win
today would make it the first time Saints have won three in a row this
seasonand we want that to continue. Stirling have already shown to
us that theyll be hard opposition to break down. Hopefully we can
get an early goal which would settle us and take it from there. We were
probably lucky to get a draw at their place when we last played and I
remember that the conditions were horrendous that afternoon. If its
the same sort of conditions tomorrow we can expect the game to be turned
into more of a battle, slowing things down. Were a passing team,
particularly when were at home, but no matter what the conditions
are were capable of adapting and dealing with whatever Stirling
throw at us. "
As for his own form since moving to the left side of the park, he said, "I dont mind playing there. As long as Im playing, thats the most important thing. Ive played out there in bits and pieces throughout my career. The system we play allows me to push on and the manager keeps telling me to be the first player in support of the strikers, and obviously Im happy to do that being a striker myself. There was a real buzz in the dressing room after we beat Dunfermline and we heard Dundee and Hamilton had both dropped points. If it happens again tomorrow we could be seven points off Hamilton and five off Dundeeand thats touching distance. We need to win most of our games from now to the end of the season, but its still all to play for. " His own future seems almost settled with a new 2-year contract on offer from Saints and he went on, "Weve started talks and Im happy with the length of the contract. Its just about sorting the wee things out. Ive been with the club for seven years and Im happy here"
Derek McInnes isn't taking his opponents lightly either and he said, "Weve not played well against them so far. Theyre fighting for their lives and have a lot of spirit about them. Theyve taken points off every team in the division and wont lie down. We know that if we dont play well we wont win.". For Saints there was some better news with Kevin Moon back in the squad after recovering from his back injury althoughStuart McCaffrey misses out again.
7pm - It wasn't without a slip-up but Saints put in a solid performance to notch up a 2-1 win over Stirling with goals courtesy of Andy Jackson and substitute Kevin Moon in a game we pretty much dominated from start to finish. Results elsewhere saw Accies scrape a late win over Clyde but Scumdee slipped up at home to QoS.Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "I thought the response from the players today was magnificent. We got off to a flyer with Jackos strike and I thought it was a great goal Liam Craig, who I thought was magnificent all afternoon, drove towards goal with great purpose and provided a great pass for Jacko. To be honest, it is getting to the stage when it is no surprise when Andy finds the net with his shot. I thought we passed the ball well for the remainder of the half but just struggled create chances from that.". He wasn't too happy about the one we lost though. "It was a bad goal to lose a cheap mistake to give away the free kick and then not picking up the man in the box. However, I thought the way the boys picked up the mantle and drove us on was magnificent. Kevin Moon gave us a spark when he came on he has missed a few chances recently but he buried that one when it was needed. I cant praise the players enough today. We were not at our best as a unit this afternoon but we dug deep to gain the win. Ive asked them to go on the sort of run we have threatened to do all season and see where it takes us."
25th - Plenty of coverage of Alan
Main(right) in the papers today with the Saints keeper set to notch
up his 300th appearance for the club tomorrow against Stirling Albion.
Speaking in the Courier, he picked out his highlight saying, "It
has to be the save against Dundee in the last game of the season which
helped get us into Europe. My kids are actually playing it to me now on
YouTube! I can remember it well. Willie Falconer crossed for James Grady.
As a goalkeeper you make a lot of saves but that one certainly stands out.
It was a massive game for the club and the fact that it was against Dundee
made it even bigger. There was such a lot riding on it and the win got us
third place in the league and into Europe. Its something Ill
always remember. That game rounded off a season that we couldnt have
dreamed of. From that we got our matches against Monaco, which were two
other highlights. They were great games to play in and Ive got
Fabien Barthezs shirt framed. It was really nice for me personally
that Barthez and their coach were really complimentary about how I played.
Looking back on what we achieved, it certainly turned out to be the right
decision to join Saints from Dundee United. My first spell was a very
successful time in my careerI was also lucky enough to lead out the
team for our League Cup final against Rangersand it has become a big
part of St Johnstones history. "
As for the current side's form he went on, "Weve steadied the ship in the last few weeks and the pace and quality of training at the moment is very good. The guys are really pushing hard now and we want to win all the games we have left. We have to have the belief that we can do it. Three hundred appearances is a good number but Im still feeling fit enough to keep going. Ill keep playing as long as Im up to a standard that keeps myself, the manager and the fans happy. But I know there will come a time when Ill have to say Im not up to that standard. "
January 24th - Saints are set to head to Dingwall in the 5th round of the Cup a week on Saturday. Last night's 4th round match saw Ross County beat Cove Rangers 4-2.
January 22nd -
Derek McInnes was still happy about
the weekend win yesterday. The Courier quotes him saying, "To go
to Dunfermline and win was a fantastic effort and the most satisfying win
because they have been playing so well and we havent won there in
about 12 visits. There was a lot which pleased me with the performance. By
the end of the match Dunfermline had Hamilton, Burchill, Crawford,
McIntyre and Harper on the pitch, which is a lot of ammunition. But we
dealt with it and that was probably the most pleasing thing. The guys
stuck to the task, worked hard for each other and won some important
headers. The more you do that the more you believe you can do it, and you
trust each other that you can see through away games like the one at the
weekend, and the one at Clyde recently. Id be lying if I said we
didnt think like that. We want another few weekends like the last
one when we win and they dont. Its a big gap to make up and
theres no getting away from that, but I just want us to go on a run
of back-to- back wins to make sure we do our bit to put the pressure on. "
There's a Reserve League Cup tie at McD tonight against East Fife and Kevin James could be in line for a run out for half an hour or so. And while Kevin Moon's back injury ruled him out of training yesterday, Martin Hardie looks set to resume training on Friday. Daniel McBreen is also recovering well and could be in contention for a return against QoS on Feb 9th, but one player who will miss out is Kevin Rutkiewicz who is suspended.
As for new signing Greg Cameron he spoke to the paper of his decision to come to Saints. "Derek was club captain and helped all the boys, not just me. We all looked up to him. He was a big factor in coming to Perth until the end of the season. He was a huge influence on me before. It has been disappointing falling out of the first team picture at United and there are now six or seven players fighting for places in midfield. It was great playing in the SPL so early but it has been hard, especially at times when I felt I was doing well but still being left out. I thought Id be on the bench against Dunfermline so it was a great surprise to start and be part of a winning team. "
5.30pm - Tonight's Reserve League Cup game was called off this morning due to a frozen McDiarmid Pitch. Elsewhere and the club announced a cut in prices for Saturday with admission set at £15/£5 for both East and West Stands. Geoff Brown told the Official Site, "The Board realises that January is a long month and it has been a heavy hit for supporters. Hopefully this move will help those who pay into the home games and encourage some folk who might not come to the game otherwise to come and support the boys."
January 21st -
Gary Irvine is in the paper today
talking about Saturday's penalty incident. While justice was done when
Burchill missed the kick, the Saints right-back told the Courier, "There
was minimal contact. I was trying to get across to cover for one of the
defenders. I felt a touch on the shoulder and I drew away, but hes a
wee guy, so maybe he blows over easily. You can look on it as clever play
by him because hes trying to win the game for his team and maybe if
hed taken another touch Id have got there. ". He was
happy with the win though and went on, "You saw how good a team
Dunfermline were today. They were attacking in waves for much of the game
and we dealt with that well. We knew how hard it was going to be coming
here, and to grind out a result like that was very satisfying. Hopefully
that gives the two teams above us notice that we arent down and out
yet, but we need another couple of wins still to claw it back."
Derek McInnes was just as pleased. He said, "We knew it would be a big result for us if we were to come here and win. We played with a lot of confidence and I think we have shown in the last couple of away games that we can dig in. In terms of digging in and getting a result I couldnt be any more proud. Every one of them fought their corner to get a result out of it. I thought Paul Gallacher was outstanding. We could maybe have got a second goal and it would have been a bit easier on us "
20th - Yesterday's goalscorer Andy
Jackson(right) believes that the future of Saints is with the
younger players. Speaking to the Sunday Mail, he said, "There are
a lot of kids in the team now with the guys who have come on loan like
Liam and Greg.
But we also have people like Paul Sheerin
for experience. We've played some really good football to win games this
season but a victory like today's is the type that lifts you titles. It
was backs to the wall at times in the second half but we showed a lot of
character and dug in for the win. With Hamilton and Dundee both dropping
points it's a big win for us. "
Derek McInnes had no complaints about the straight red card for Dyron Daal and said, "I only saw the tail end of what happened but I spoke to the ref and he said they had both raised their hands and it was a straight red. This was the most satisfying victory since I've become manager because we had to dig in and withstand pressure but we stood up to it and saw it through "
January 19th -
Allan McManus looks set to start today
in place of the injured Stuart McCaffrey
and he's looking to hold onto the jersey. The defender told the Courier he
wasn't happy with being dropped to the bench in recent matches in favour
of the new signing. "Its horrible finding myself being a
substitute and not something I take on the chin. I didnt think the
decision was justified and have spoken to the manager about it. Some
people might accept the situation but I dont. But what happened is
water under the bridge and you just have to be professional and get on
with things. You can react one of two ways. Either you go off in the huff
or knuckle down. Ive chosen to do the latter. The most important
thing is that the team is doing well, which they have been. Ive kept
plugging away and hopefully will now get back in the side. If that happens
Ill aim to pick up where I left off a couple of weeks ago.
Competition is heating up here which is good for the club and something I
am up for. But once I get back in I dont expect to be left out again
because given the chance Ill aim to raise the bar and be playing
well enough to keep the jersey."
He knows it won't be easy today with the Pars out for revenge after the Challenge Cup Final and went on, "Theres a wee bit of rivalry between Dunfermline and ourselves after the cup final. The league games between us this season might not have produced goals but the final made up for that. Theyve since got a lift with the new manager coming in, but weve improved as well."
Kevin Moon has been ruled out but Derek McInnes is hopeful of getting a result. "It will be very difficult at East End Park. Dunfermline are on a good run just now, but were also not doing too badly, with just one defeat in our last 10 games, so it should be a good contest."
7pm - After surviving a penalty miss, Andy Jackson hit the target again to give us a 1-0 win at Dunfermline with the enjoyment boosted by the news that Hamilton lost and the Scum only drew at Clyde. There was one small cloud with a clash between Dyron Daal and the Pars' Murphy at the final whistle resulting in red cards for both players.
January 18th - After banging in
another goal midweek, Andy Jackson,
he's now set another target for himself for the season. He told the
Courier, "The cup goal against Raith this week took my total to
12 for the season so far and Im delighted with that because my
initial target back in the summer was just to get into the team. If
someone had said Id have a dozen goals by January Id have said
they were dreaming. But I want to keep it going. Having got in the side I
set myself a target of 10 goals and obviously Ive passed that
already so I have raised the bar. Im hoping to get 20 now. Maybe
thats ambitious but its good to set the mark high. Last season
Jason Scotland got more than 20 and it would be a huge achievement for me
if I could do the same. ". He's also more than happy to have his
long-term future at the club sorted out. "It was good to get a
new contract sorted out. When your contract is up at the end of the season
and you get half-way through it, the situation can start to prey on your
mind. Signing the extension has taken some weight off my shoulders
although I wont be getting complacent. Another thing I feel better
for is the extra sessions weve being doing out on the astroturf with
Tony. Hes had all the strikers working on shooting and I feel Ive
become more composed in my finishing as a result. "
Looking ahead to tomorrow's trip to Fife, he knows it will be a tough game. "They gave us our hardest game of the season down there. I know Paul Sheerin missed a chance late in the game but they battered us in the first half and are playing really well just now. "
Derek McInnes is good friends with his Pars counterpart Jim McIntyre and he told the paper, "We speak every other day but obviously not this week. We were both always opinionated in our views about training and playing and its no surprise to me hes got involved on the coaching side, albeit its maybe come a bit earlier than he imagined, as it possibly has for myself as well. I know Jim has the kind of personality to handle the problems that go with management. He is an enthusiast, always talking about the game and questioning everything. And he still has a lot to offer as a player. Dunfermline are lucky to have him ". The manager also revealed that Stuart McCaffrey will be out for a fortnight. The defender is on crutches after injuring his Achilles and he said, "Its unfortunate to lose these guys so soon after their arrival at the club and its particularly unfortunate that Daniels going to be out as hes a different type of striker to the others we have here. In Stuarts case though, while he has been doing well for us, we are lucky enough to have guys who probably feel a bit aggrieved at being left out and who are capable of coming in and doing a good job. "
4.45pm - Well it's been a busy day at McDiarmid. We have added another new face to the team though with the Arabs 19yr old midfielder Greg Cameron(right) joining Saints on loan until the summer. Derek McInnes told the official site, "I think Greg could add something to what we have here at the moment and we will see how he gets on over the next few months. He just joined us for training this morning so I am as yet undecided to what extent he will be involved tomorrow."
Elsewhere and it seems that Derek McInnes is starting to get the long-term view for the Saints side worked out with Peter MacDonald the latest player to be offered a longer term deal. He's out of contract in the summer but a new 2-year deal is on the cards. There are also rumours though that Kevin Cuthbert might be on his way out to QoS, although it's hard to see any deal going forward that might leave us short of keeper cover. One player who has left today is Willie Dyer who has moved to Brechin on a permanent basis following his loan there before Xmas. With Goran Stanic almost a permanent fixture at the left-back slot there were few opportunities for the youngster although it does leave us without much in the way of cover should the Macedonian pick up an injury.
Finally some good and bad news from the treatment room.Daniel McBreen has had his operation today but there was bad news with Kevin Moon unable to train today due to a back injury and likely to miss out tomorrow.
January 17th - Stuart McCaffrey is apparently a doubt for the weekend after going off against Raith with an Achilles injury. In today's Courier, Derek McInnes said, "It doesnt look like hes going to be fit for Saturday but the injury shouldnt be too serious.". Better news for Kevin Rutkiewicz though. Although he also limped off in the cup game, he should make the trip to Dunfermline.
16th - Derek McInnes(right) was
a happy man following the relatively smooth progress into the next round
of the cup. The Saints manager told te Courier, "Weve got
to be pleased with the result. Wed have taken winning 3-1
beforehand. I am a bit frustrated over the last 15-20 minuteswe got
a wee bit slack and made things harder for ourselves than we should have.
We were a bit wasteful with chances and its a pity we didnt
keep a clean sheet. But at the right times we showed a brightness and
intelligence, especially when we got our goals. Some of the play at times
was excellent. We all enjoyed last years run and it definitely
helped our league campaign. Ross County or Cove is again a team from
outwith our division, but not one thats above us and its a
good opportunity for us to progress. The league remains our priority, thats
where we must be successful but the cup is important to us, too. As
a player youll be lucky to be involved in four or five cup runs in a
15-20 year career, so you have to make the most of your opportunities. And
Ive pointed out to the boys that the draw has handed us a decent
5.45pm -Daniel McBreen's injury has been explained. The striker suffered a tear to his cartilage against Partick and needs an op to tidy things up - the bad news being that he faces a three to six weeks layoff as a result. Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "It is a bit of a blow for the player and for the team. Best case scenario is that he will be out for three weeks but it could be anything up to six weeks and we won't be rushing him back."
January 15th -
Kevin Rutkiewicz is looking forward to a
good cup run this year after missing out on last year's trip to the
semi-final. The Saints defender told the Courier, "Ive now
got an opportunity to sample what the other lads did last year and it
would be great if things worked out. Weve already won the Challenge
Cup this season and now we want to do ourselves and the club justice in
the Scottish Cup. It was great seeing the boys doing well last season. But
once I was driving home from the games it would hit me what I was missing
out on. It was easy to come in smiling and being brave and at the time you
get carried along. But back on your own it is harder to deal with. Owen
Coyle was good enough to involve me in things. I was with the team when
they went to stay overnight at the Hilton in East Kilbride before meeting
Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-finals. And I had the luxury of being able
to have a couple of glasses of rose that evening! But when the boys went
out onto the park for the warm-up it hit me that here was a really big
occasion and I wouldnt play any part in it. "
"This will be my first Scottish Cup game since we fell at the first hurdle against Gretna in 2006. Hopefully there will be no repeat of that resultbut weve got a tough tie ahead of us. We have a good home record to protect and we can do that. But well need to go out with the right attitude and not have any passengers. I only discovered at noon on Saturday that the game was off and, with our having undersoil heating, it came as a real surprise. But you only have to look at the damage done to the other fixtures to realise how severe the weather had been overnight. The postponement changes nothing though. The task facing us is the same regardless of when we tackle it."
Saints have no squad changes since the weekend postponement but there is a worry over one unnamed player. The delay seems to have done Raith more of a favour with Marvin Andrews now more likely to play.
No word on Chris Millar yet and the cup game tonight has also meant the postponement of a bounce game against the Arabs where Derek McInnes was planning to look at a couple of trialists. He told the paper, "Weve put back bringing the players concerned to the club because in addition to having to cancel the match with United, the nature of our training this week doesnt really allow for us to have a look at anyone"
11pm - In the end it was a comfortable enough 3-1 win over Raith with goals coming from Andy Jackson, Steven Milne and Paul Sheerin from the penalty spot. It wasn't all good news though with both Stuart McCaffrey and Kevin Rutkiewicz going off injured while Daniel McBreen missed out completely. The result sees us take on the winners of the Cove v Ross Co tie on Feb 2nd.
January 14th -
Stewart Duff gave the story behind
Saturday's postponement to the Courier today. He said, "The
forecast was for minus one but in parts of Perth the temperature fell as
low as minus seven. At 9am it was still minus five and the Ormond Stand
end of the ground was fairly hard. The question was whether the park would
be OK by 3pm and, with the supporters to be considered, match referee
Willie Collum decided to call the match off shortly before midday. It is
disappointing the game didnt go ahead but, to be fair, I think the
ref made the correct decision. " - and we'll have a different
referee tomorrow night.
Meanwhile Chris Millar is expected to sign for Saints today in time for Saturday's trip to East End Park.
12th - Saints go into today's cup tie against Raith taking nothing
for granted - with the boys only progressing twice in the last 8 years at
this stage of the competition, both times thanks to replays.
Peaso(right) is hoping for a repeat
of last year's glory run but is also treating toda'ys opponents with care.
He told the Courier, "The semi-final last year was the high point
of my career, he said. Playing against the Scottish champions, whod
been tackling AC Milan in Europe, we more than held our own. In fact we
had them rattled at times. But the cup can just as easily give you a slap
in the face. One year you can be hitting the heights, the next, being on
the receiving end of a shock. We have to guard against that and recognise
well have to work as hard if not harder to get to the same stage of
the tournament as we did last season. And I know the boys are willing to
do that. The Scottish Cup was great last year, both from a team and
personal point of view. And it would be good to get another run going. But
first of all we need to take care of Raith, who are flying high and gave
us a fright in the Challenge Cup. We cant go thinking about the next
round or anything else. Our minds need to be firmly on Saturday. Theres
nothing worse than a so- called smaller team putting you out, and well
need to be up for the game because Raith Rovers certainly will be. "
Derek McInnes though reckons that we need to bring back the killer instinct to the side. He said, "Our priority is the league but the cup is a welcome distraction. The cup was good to us last season and we all enjoyed the run we had, beating a couple of Premier league sides before losing in the semi final to Celtic. However we are totally focused on the Raith game because we know we are up against a good side. "
No word on any new injuries although some players apparently have minor knocks. Dyron Daal however has been linked with a move to QoS.
11.45am - After heavy overnight frost, the match referee called off the cup tie this morning after a pitch inspection. The game has been rearranged for Tues 15th at 7.45pm
5.15pm - The Scottish Cup 5th round draw means that if we beat Raith Rovers on Tuesday night we've got a trip to the Highlands awaiting us with the winners of the Cove / Ross Co game hosting Saints on Feb 2nd.
11th - With the cup hype underway again,
Liam Craig(right) has been talking up
his Saints experience so far and the midfielder told the Courier he wants
to stay long-term. He said, "Im out of contract at Falkirk
at the end of the season and obviously if Im not playing well no-oneSt
Johnstone, Falkirk or anyone else will want me. But, hopefully, I
will earn myself a contract here. Ive loved my short time at the
club. And if I didnt think we could go on a run to get us back into
contention for the league I wouldnt have signed and wasted the
gaffers time. The title is the priority but it would be nice to have
an extended run in the cup as well. I know Saints did it last season
because I watched them beat Falkirk 3-0 and there is potential here to put
another cup run together. I still dont think we have hit the heights
we are capable of and I know I will get fitter and stronger myself. I was
in and out of the side at Falkirk, getting five minutes or half an hour
here and there from the bench. I probably only featured in eight or nine
games all season before coming to Saints."
After a close encounter in the Challenge Cup earlier in the season, where it took a penalty shoot-out for us to progress, Derek McInnes isn't taking anything for granted. He said, "It is easy to see why Raith are so high up in the league and winning a lot of games. They are a useful side with a presence about them who play at the right times. Well need to play well to get through. It was a tight match there in the Challenge Cup, albeit we missed some glaring chances in the first half to put the game to bed. Im pleased that weve got them at home this time but still recognise the threat they pose to us "
No more word on any new signings but Morton have apparently asked for permission if needed to play cup-tied Chris Millar tomorrow in their tie which would rule him out of any 5th round tie for Saints. Either way it looks like he won't be a Saints player until next week at the earliest.
January 10th - Saints confirmed
yesterday that after having second thoughts, the price for the cup game on
Saturday will be £15/£5 with no season tickets allowed. At least
it's a bit of an improvement.
Elsewhere and the injury situation seems to be improving with Jamie McCluskey getting the go-ahead from the specialist to resume training next week but just as he's getting nearer fitness, Andy Lawrie has been ruled out for two weeks with a neck injury picked up in training.
January 9th - Still no word on
Chris Millar joining us. Derek
McInnes told the Courier, "Its a strange one. There
were indications from their end that agreement had been reached but weve
heard nothing so its as you were. However, we remain keen to get him
in this week even though hes cup-tied for Saturday. ".
Meanwhile fans have been told to expect some departures in the transfer
window as well. The manager went on, "I wont keep people
who arent getting a lot of football and obviously if you add to the
squad then opportunities for some players to play become fewer. At the
minute though no-one is moving."....the main candidate rumoured
to be on his way is the out-of-favour Willie
One ex-player on the move yesterday was Danny Griffin who was released/escaped from his Dens Park nightmare.
January 8th - Despite reports yesterday, it seems that we're no nearer getting Chris Millar on board from Morton. The midfielder has already reportedly signed a pre-contract agreement to move to Saints in the summer but despite being frozen out by Jim McInally at Morton, the Greenock club have turned down an offer of £5,000 to make the deal go through now. Stewart Duff said, "Weve made an offer and the ball is in Mortons court. They have indicated theyll come back to us later this week."
January 7th - Savo reckons that he's back to his best now and told the Courier after getting the second on Saturday, "I was delighted to get the goal. At the time we were 1-0 up and so many times this season we have drawn games, so to go 2-0 up was great and I was happy with the finish. Ive missed half the season through injury so to have got three goals so far is not too bad. Hopefully thats the injuries over with, touch wood. Ive played the last six or seven games in a row now and Im feeling good. It was a very important result today. Everythings gone for us today and long may that continue. Were certainly not giving up, its a tall ask but no one at the clubs giving up, were still going for it and we still believe we can do it. Weve done it in the past two seasons from this time onwards and hopefully we can do it again this season. Obviously its harder this year with having to peg back two teams but weve just got to keep concentrating on ourselves and keep winning games. Weve not lost too many games, but draws have killed us. We need to turn them into wins and todays the start. "
January 6th -
Derek McInnes was happier last night
after the win. He told the Official Saints site, "I thought we
played well and showed a willingness to pass the ball around today. We
started the game well and should have gone in at half time at least a goal
to the good but after a promising start I felt the first half became a bit
stop-start and we couldnt keep the game going at the tempo we
wanted. It was important to me that we kept the concentration levels at
the back and other than at set pieces when they caused a bit of a problem
I felt we were comfortable for long spells. Andy
Jackson had an impact and once we got the goal we had three or four
great moves that could have also resulted in goals. Unlike Wednesday, I
felt we always tried to do the right thing today it didnt
always come off but the players made the right decisions in a lot more
As for the debut boys he went on, "I thought they both did well, particularly given the fact that neither has played much football in recent weeks. Stuart has won this league with Inverness and Daniel likewise with Falkirk and having players who know what it takes to get out of this league is very important. Overall, Im pleased with a lot of things about today. There are still areas which need improved but we need more weekends like this where we win and the top two slip up a wee bit. There is still a big gap but all we can do is try and put some wins together and see where it takes us. That is something we have not managed this season so far and have to put right."
5th- Gary Irvine(right) is in
the Courier today and he knows what's required going into the 2nd half of
the season. "I think were going to have to replicate last
season when the players went on a great run. Its a run like that
which we need to put together again everybody needs to be 100% every
game now. Weve made it tough for ourselves, but we still have the
belief in the squad that we can do it. Were a long way back but I
still dont think were out of it. ". Nice words but he
also realises we blew another chance midweek with yet another draw. "That
was another missed opportunity because Dundee were there for the taking.
It was a match we were set on winning and would have seen us claw
something back on the team above us. It would have put us in the frame
again and shown that were not down and out. If you look at the games
weve had against the two top teams Hamilton and Dundeemore
often than not weve been the better team, so to see them both so far
ahead is really hard to take. But weve only got ourselves to blame
with the amount of draws weve had, and weve also been shooting
ourselves in the foot time and time again by losing the first goal. To
keep doing that is dis- appointing, especially as were trying to
claw back so many pointsholding on to leads has been a problem as
well. Its not good enough at a club like St Johnstone, where weve
got one of the strongest squads in the league "
The defender has also had a go at his old club in the Record over their treatment of Rocco Quinn. "Celtic want a big fee for Rocco but not many clubs can pay such a big fee. It must be hard for Rocco and I know his heart was set on staying here. It was a shock when he had to go back. I left Celtic to play regular first-team football and I hope Rocco can sort his future out."
Saints have wrapped up another signing with the confirmation that Liam Craig's loan spell has been extended until the end of the season.
6.30 - A good solid performance saw Saints run out comfortable 2-0 winners over Partick with goals from debutant Stuart McCaffrey and a great finish from Steven Milne. With both Accies and the Scum failing to see a goal in their games, it means we've at least managed to close the gap with another couple of points.
4th - Daniel McBreen(right) is
hoping to get a run out tomorrow after committing himself to Saints. The
new striker spoke in today's Courier of his move to Perth. "I
cancelled my contract with Scunthorpe. There was talk of a loan but that
was becoming difficult and I didn't want to miss this opportunity. I had a
tough time through injury and the manager who signed me from Falkirk left.
There was no point hanging around and it was time to get out so I jumped
at the chance to come here. I wasn't getting a run of games and went on
loan to York. It was near my home but my last game was November so I will
need time to get match fitness. But I believe in myself and I will score
goals for the team. The manager stressed he had good strikers but needed a
bigger type of guy. I think I fit the mould. Kenny
Deuchar might be a tough act to follow but I'm my own man and
hopefully the fans will like what I offer. It didn't work out in England
but playing there had been a boyhood ambition. Now I'm grateful Saints
have given me a chance to come back to Scotland."
Derek McInnes is looking for a similar
impact from his new signing and said, "Daniel is the type of
striker you need, particularly in the first division, and there aren't too
many of them about to be honest. I played against him when he was with
Falkirk, so I know what he can do. After seeing him against Dundee I'm
convinced he can do a job for us. He's not played a lot of football in
recent weeks and we'll try and get him up to speed as quick as possible.
If he can do what Kenny did for us I'm sure he'll be a good signing. If he
likes us and we like him we'll look at things again in the summer. We've
got a lot of games still to play and our focus is on winning them. We are
where we are - 15 points behind leaders Hamilton - because of all the
games we've drawn. I'm concentrating on us putting a run of games together
that I know we are more than capable of. It needs to be a lot of wins but
if we get them we'll see where that takes us."
In terms of other signings, Saints are still waiting on a decision from Simon Mensing with both Hamilton and Saints matching Motherwell's asking price for the player. Kevin Rutkiewicz has picked up an achilles knock but should be set to face Partick tomorrow.
Looking ahead to the game tomorrow, we look like having an unchanged squad but both Daniel McBreen and the other new recruit Stuart McCaffrey may play. The manager said, "We were all disappointed that we didn't beat Dundee on Wednesday but we have to put that behind us and put all our energies into defeating a decent Partick Thistle side. We've lost only one game in the last nine but it is obvious to everyone that we are not winning enough of them. I am trying to build a side for next season but I have by no means given up on making a challenge this campaign but in order to do that we have to start winning games. I have to gauge their fitness levels as neither of them have played much football in recent weeks. Our curtailed training due to the snow is not helping that matter so I'll make a late decision on whether to involve them from the start against Thistle."
McDiarmid is covered in snow but the club are hopeful that the mild weather forecast and some clearance work will ensure the game goes ahead.
January 3rd- Despite failing to win again yesterday, Steven Milne isn't giving up yet. The Saints goalscorer told the Courier, "We still believe the gap can be closed and wont give up until its mathematically impossible. We cant change whats happened here. We just need to move on and look to Saturday against Partick Thistle and getting three points which might see us close up on the top two. Its frustrating that, as you saw today, theres nothing between ourselves and the team in second place. Its unbelievable to think we are so far behind them. But these draws are killing us. "
January 2nd- New signing
Stuart McCaffrey is in the Courier
talking about his move to Saints - a choice made over today's opponents
Scumdee. The defender said, "It was a tough decision. Looking at
the table, Dundee are better placed than St Johnstone but I have looked at
the bigger picture. I was impressed with the set-up at Perth and want to
play my part in helping Derek McInnes
bring success to the club. I had the feelers out and people I respect in
the game assured me I was making the right decision. In many ways, St
Johnstone have even more to offer than Inverness and while they are behind
Dundee and Hamilton at the moment, leagues arent won at Christmas. I
remember winning the First Division title with Inverness after being even
further behind at this stage. When youre at the top its hard
staying there. And with Dunfermline a different team under Jim McIntyre,
the second half of the season will be even tougher. ". There's no
guarantee he'll play today either. "Obviously, theres a
potential debut against Dundee but the lads had a great result against
Clyde at the weekend so I might have to bide my time. The longer-term aim
at St Johnstone is to get back to the SPL and obviously a win would be a
huge boost. But, from a personal point of view, Ill be ready to play
whenever the gaffer wants me. "
Saints have lined up another move for a loan deal for ex-Falkirk striker 30yr old Daniel McBreen until the end of the season but because he's an Aussie, we've got to wait on international clearance first - either way the move kills off a deal for Kenny Deuchar. An approach has also been made to Morton to sign Chris Millar permanently during the transfer window, while there will be no further moves to get Rocco Quinn in after Sellik's daft pricing strategy ruled out a deal.
Meanwhile ahead of today's game, Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) has been doing the pre-match praising of Kevin Moon who was man of the match at Broadwood at the weekend. The Saints defender said, "Kevin was outstanding on Saturday. There was a wee spell in the first half when the far more experienced Marvyn Wilson was getting in about him. But he came through that, got stronger and stronger and thoroughly deserved his goal. For me, as a defender, however, the tackle he won to get the chance was better than the goal itself and it showed he does have all the attributes required. Kevin is an introverted lad but there was nothing shy or retiring about the challenge and if he can just come out of his shell that wee bit then he can go on to play at a higher level. Ability-wise he is fantastic and he proved with the goal at Clyde that he has that little nasty streak to him where he can go and win a 50-50, putting the centre-half on his backside in the process. ". Today's game is a bigger affair though with a chance to close the gap at the top and he went on, "Because of the chance it presents to close the gap on Dundee, this is a massive game for us. And if we could beat them then keep on doing what we have to, winning games and picking up points, hopefully come February/March well have a gap there which we can set about closing and making them nervous. At the minute we have got to put all title aspirations to the back of our mind and concentrate on keeping our own house in order, making sure our results are as we need them to be. But if we succeed in doing that then I think we have one advantage over the two clubs ahead of us: the experience of having having been in this position before. OK, for the last couple of seasons its been one team weve been chasing, now its two. But neither Hamilton nor Dundee have been here before and hopefully if we can get Kevin James and Martin Hardie back and maybe strengthen in the window, then we can go on a run which gets us right back into things and put that experience to good use. ". He knows what to expect today though. "Dundee are a big, physically strong, team and well need to win the battle before we try to do anything else. But I think we showed at the weekend that weve got that in our locker. Clyde is a horrible place to go to, and I say that with all due respect to them. They are hard to play against, are in your face and nip about. You need to show fighting qualities to beat them and we did that. Well need something similar for this match "
Expect changes in the starting lineup as well with the manager saying,"The lads who came in at Broadwood did well and made my job of selecting a team difficult, but Ill pick the line-up I feel is best suited to this particular match"
6.30pm - Daniel McBreen signed today for 6 months and made his debut off the bench in the 1-1 draw with Scumdee with Steven Milne getting Saints goal. And as one came in, Stephen Doris has gone off to Montrose for another six months. Elsewhere departed loan striker John Stewart has ended up at QoS until the end of the season.
10pm - Saints have confirmed that the Daniel McBreen signing is a permanent one with the deal until the end of the season. Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "Daniel has reached an agreement with Scunthorpe United to be released from his contract and we have signed him for the remainder of this season. If both parties like what they see then we will look to extend his stay into next season. Daniel gives us a different option up front and I thought he did well in his time on the park today. He gave us a presence."
As for the game, the manager went on, "My initial thoughts are one of disappointment. We have lost another cheap goal we didnt deal with the goal at source, gave them far too much time to get the ball into the box and then despite having enough bodies in the box failed to prevent the goal. That gave us an uphill struggle and it was good that we got back on level terms relatively quickly. It is frustrating though I think we have gone behind in every game since I took charge. I thought in the second half we could have got the ball into wider areas more and we made the wrong decisions at times passing when we should have shot and vice versa. Todays game epitomises our season to be honest unbeaten again but still no three points. We are hard to beat but we have lost any sort of ruthlessness. I cant fault the effort though and I have a dressing room full of disappointed players."
January 1st- Happy New Year and all that. Not much in the papers today concerning Saints but a couple of old boys seem to be on the move. Former manager Billy Stark looks set to quit Queen's Park at the weekend to take over as Scotland U-21 manager. Elsewhere and Ryan McCann has signed a deal with QoS until the end of the season.
Top Of News