ST MIRREN manager Danny Lennon has blamed the SPL for ruining his players’ and the club’s fans’ Christmas celebrations by forcing them to travel up to Inverness today.
A festive trip to the Highlands for a club in the central belt is regarded as the short straw when the fixture list is published, and many clubs have reluctantly but quietly made the hike north in recent years. Lennon, however, claims it is unfair to ask his side to make the eight-hour, 350-mile round drive in freezing conditions when they should be with their families.
Lennon also claimed that his wife’s Christmas was ruined six months ago due to the Boxing Day schedule.
“I was lying on a beach in Mexico when the fixtures were released,” he said. “I was on holiday in Cancun with my wife.
“The first one we looked for was Boxing Day – so she was in a bad mood right away. She was ready to phone up the SPL there and then. She wasn’t happy at all.
“I actually had the fixtures two days prior to that and she was asking me if they had been released. I didn’t want to tell her so I just told her once they were released to the public! I showed her on my phone and I knew that one would annoy her. Fortunately, our partners are all very understanding.
“It’s difficult. We were up there two years ago. For me, it’s not rocket science when you’ve got two teams up that way [Inverness and Ross County].
“Everyone wants to spend time with their loved ones at this time of year. That’s what Christmas is all about.
“We’ve got a job to do and we’ll get on with it but, for me, it doesn’t make sense. I don’t think New Year is as big a thing as it was years and years ago but I thought the Christmas fixtures could have been fairer.
“You’ve got to take the fans into account as well. Finances are already tight and their credit cards are at the limit so it just doesn’t make sense. We feel a bit hard done to because it’s the second time in three years.”
The Saints players trained yesterday morning but at least spent last night at home.
“We stayed over on Christmas night the last time but we’re going up on the day for this game. Christmas is all about families and we’ve got a group of players with young families. There was nothing worse than forcing them to leave their Christmas dinner early. We went up and got the job done but, with the luxury coaches and the fact we’ve already done Ross County and Aberdeen on the same day this season, we thought we’d go up on the day.
“I know psychologically my players will be prepared knowing they’ve spent Christmas with their loved ones so I know we’ll get a lot back in return on Boxing Day. It’s a blow having Jim Goodwin and Marc McAusland suspended but we have options.
“Inverness have been great and I can’t praise Terry Butcher and his staff highly enough. They deserve the plaudits. They’re scoring goals and Billy McKay looks a real find. I remember him last season and he was always lively and now he’s cashing in on the experience. They leak goals as well and I feel we’ve managed to shut up shop at the back and create opportunities at the same time. I just want us to be a bit more ruthless.”
Lennon is hoping to sign Newcastle United midfielder Conor Newton, 21, on loan until May and extend the stay in Paisley of full-back and fellow Newcastle player Paul Dummett until the end of the season.