On Saturday, the curtain came down on yet another Scottish Premiership season and Saints’ ninth consecutive top-flight campaign.
After missing out on the top six for the first time since the 2010/11 season, the club will also be adapting to life without three iconic figures from next season.
Chris Millar, Steven MacLean and Alan Mannus have all moved on from the club, meaning that Saints fans have had to say goodbye to three members of the 2014 Scottish Cup-winning side in one go.
There was good news yesterday though, that 30-year-old midfielder Murray Davidson has signed a new two-year-deal with the club. The Scotland international is one of the club’s most experienced players, having made nearly 300 appearances for Saints in all competitions since he joined from Livingston back in 2009.
It’s been a year of highs and lows, with fantastic away victories at Motherwell (5-1), Dundee (4-0), and Rangers (3-1) among the highlights for the Saints fans this season.
Early exits in the cup competitions were slightly disappointing though, and in a season that has been blighted by injuries the club fought hard but Tommy Wright’s men were unable to clinch what would have been a seventh consecutive top six finish.
The Northern Irishman is a glass half full kind of man though, and believes there are lots of positives for the supporters to take from the 2017/18 campaign.
“It has been frustrating at times,” Tommy said, “but I’m a man who likes to look at the positives and I think there are some to take from that season.
“I think the emergence of the young players this season has been particularly positive. I think both the club and I have been unfairly labelled with not giving youth a chance.
“I’ve always said that if you’re good enough you’ll get a chance, no matter what age you are. It’s just that in previous years the quality hasn’t been there in our younger players for them to break into the first-team.
“Now we have extremely talented young players and that’s a testament to the work that Alec Cleland has put in with many of them. I think the emergence of the young players this season has been particularly positive.
“Aaron Comrie has had a lot of game time, Ali McCann has shown what he’s all about in the second-half of the season and we’ve had sixteen-year-old John Robertson make his first-team debut.
“Jason Kerr has developed into a top player and has become a big player for us, and Liam Gordon and Chris Kane have also made great strides and are first-team squad members now. Kyle McClean and Callum Hendry are also putting themselves into contention so all in all it’s very exciting.”
The players will have a slightly longer period of leave before returning for pre-season this year given that there is no Europa League involvement for the club next campaign.
And Tommy is hopeful that the extra break will give his players a chance to return fully fit and ready to go.
“Obviously we’d like to be in Europe,” he said, “but I think having the longer break will benefit the players and help them to recharge the batteries for next season.
“They will all be given programmes away with them though so they’ll still be doing some work during the off-season. Hopefully all the lads will return fully fit and raring to go for another campaign.
“It’s pretty much non-stop for me much to the annoyance of my wife! I’m always on my phone while we’re on holiday and checking emails, trying to get everything in place.
“Hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll have our pre-season plans finalised in terms of who we’ll play and where we’ll go. Then it’ll be back to recruitment again and I’m hoping we can add three of four in the summer.
“We’re in no rush though and I actually think the squad is in a very healthy shape as it is. That means we can afford to wait and make sure the recruitment is done right.”
Saints will be back to competitive action in the Betfred Cup from July 14th, with the 2018/19 Scottish Premiership campaign getting underway on the first weekend in August.
Images courtesy of St. Johnstone Football Club/Perthshire Picture Agency
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