ST JOHNSTONE manager Tommy Wright believes the pundits want a “New Firm” revival story for this season’s William Hill Scottish Cup final – but he intends to pen an even better football fairytale.
The Perth boss, who will resume his place in the dug-out for Sunday’s semi-final clash with Aberdeen after recovering from gall bladder surgery, is using Sir Alex Ferguson-style motivation in the build-up to the tie.
Saints players already believe they are being viewed as second-class citizens and Wright, in a fashion reminiscent of Sir Alex in the Dons’ glory days, is using that to spur them on.
“The players are very aware that everyone outwith the club and our fan base seems to want a ‘New Firm’ revival style story for the final but I believe us making our first Scottish Cup final in 130 years would be an even better story,” said Wright.
“Pat Nevin was writing us off even when my assistant Callum Davidson was there beside him in the BBC studio.
“We were being written off along with Rangers from the moment the draw was made.
“I would tend to disagree. We are the smallest club of the last four and obviously history is against us. But going in there under the radar suits us and we are happy with a low-key build-up. We go in under no pressure. We know we haven’t done ourselves justice against Aberdeen but at the start of the season I said we had quality players who were match winners and we would be a good cup side. That has proved to be the case.
“We believe we can go all the way by playing to our full potential and eliminating the basic mistakes which cost us in the League Cup.”
Wright, who revealed Celtic boss Neill Lennon had granted Saints access to Lennoxtown to put the final touches to his cup preparations, has called on Perth fans to forget about previous cup heartache and snap up tickets for their latest pitch at making the final. Saints took 4000-plus to the recent League Cup semi-final as the Perthshire club crashed 4-0 to the Dons – and some fans are still licking their wounds.
They have sold 2500 and expect more to shift this week but Wright hopes fans will focus on the present rather than the past.
“Ticket sales are going well but I think it’s important that we get as many Saints fans into Ibrox as possible,” he said.
“I’m hearing people say ‘we’ve lost so any semi-finals’ and hearing talk about all these previous disappointments. I’m sure there are people thinking like that,” he said.
“A lot of the older supporters, in particular, have had to endure a lot of disappointments over the years. But this is a different game, with different players. I’d encourage as many to come along to do their bit to hopefully help us make it to the club’s first Scottish Cup final.
“There’s a lot of guys here who have suffered in cup semi-finals. There are players who have been here a long time, and there will be supporters who have seen all seven we’ve lost since the war. The younger ones will connect with the more recent ones.
“Losing semi-finals isn’t nice but getting to the final would put a smile on a lot of people’s faces and take away a lot of the heartache.”