ST JOHNSTONE promoted from within as they named Tommy Wright as their new manager, with former Scotland defender Callum Davidson appointed his assistant.
Former Northern Ireland international keeper Wright, 49, succeeds Steve Lomas, the man he acted as No 2 for, who has joined Millwall. Wright has managed three clubs in his home country and turned down a chance to join Lomas at The New Den when the lure of being his own man beckoned at McDiarmid Park.
Wright, who will be officially paraded at McDiarmid Park next week after he has returned from a summer holiday, said: “I’m delighted and honoured that the club wanted me to become manager. It’s good that they have noticed the work done by myself and the coaching staff alongside Steve in the last 18 months.
“Steve asked if I was interested in going to Millwall, but I wanted to stay here. I didn’t want to leave St Johnstone because I’m happy at the club. I hadn’t thought too much about becoming a manager again because I was enjoying my job as Steve’s No 2, but when the opportunity came up and the chairman spoke to me about it, I was
delighted the club wanted me to stay on.
“I’m sure there were good candidates out there, but I can’t wait to get working now with Callum and Alec Cleland and the rest of the staff.”
After a third place finish last term and with Europa League qualifiers next month, Wright knows he has his work cut out of repeating the trick, but he is already advancing plans to bolster the squad. He added: “It will be difficult, but we’ll be working flat out to give ourselves the best chance possible of that happening.”
Defender Frazer Wright is ready to sign on again and the new manager said: “Frazer has been great for us over the last few years. We have a good nucleus of the team, but we need to add more new faces. Even though I’m on holiday, I’ll still be speaking to people about players. I’ve been on to other managers, agents and contacts in the game, trying to get things sorted for next season. We’ve lost a few players so we’ll need to bring new faces in, especially with Europe not too far away.
“I’ll work closely with the chairman because we all know the financial restraints in Scottish football. We don’t spend money we don’t have and the finances make things difficult, but it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. It’s my job to get the best team on the park as possible and I’ll be working over the next few weeks to get people in.”
St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown admitted he wasn’t even tempted to interview a string of impressive candidates who were keen to land a job which has now seen three successive bosses land moves to the Championship as Lomas followed Owen Coyle and Derek McInnes in winning big moves to England.
Brown said: “Tommy was the obvious successor to Steve Lomas. Stability is important at any football club and in stepping-up from the assistant’s role he brings us continuity. We were delighted with the impressive quality of CVs which flooded in when it became clear we were losing
another manager to the Championship, but we didn’t look to interview other candidates.
“Along with Steve Lomas, Tommy has played an integral role in the success of the football club over the last two seasons. When he made it clear he would prefer to stay with us rather than follow Steve to Millwall, we took that as a very positive sign of his commitment to St Johnstone. That sort of loyalty impressed me.
“The opportunity to be his own man carried obvious appeal. He has man-management qualities, he managed three clubs in Ireland and he knows the game inside out.
“Any other appointment would have been a high-risk strategy and a major gamble, as we would have been back to square one. Tommy knows how the club operates from top to bottom, including the financial side, our commitment to the community and bringing the club closer to the fans, our philosophy on youth development, and like Callum Davidson he is respected in the dressing room.
“With Europa League qualifiers next month, we have a pressing need to get various players tied up and Tommy has been fully involved with that side of things. We are pushing hard to tie up players and hopefully we will have good news on that front later in the week.
“Tommy is no novice. He has management experience from his time in Northern Ireland.
“Callum is very much Tommy’s appointment and it has been warmly embraced by the directors. He is mature, intelligent, popular with the players and he has a wide knowledge of the game. He has dipped a toe in the waters coaching-wise and is ready to take on the role as