St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright has told the Perth support to think again if they believe repeating last season’s Scottish Premiership feats will be easy.
The McDiarmid Park manager saw his side bounce back from four Scottish Premiership matches without victory by beating Hamilton in the League Cup on Tuesday. The Northern Irishman denied he felt under pressure during that run but did admit expectations have risen for Saints since their impressive displays in the Europa League qualifiers.
Now he has warned the club’s fans that reaching the top six and qualifying for Europe for a third year in a row will be as hard as ever.
Wright said “From that run of four games, the only disappointing performance – and even then it was only parts of the game – was against Hibs. We were never worried and I think we have still had a good start to the season and have won a cup game. Maybe expectation levels have risen among some supporters and some parts of the media.
“Maybe they think we are going to be a shoo-in for the top six and a European spot. But we never said that. We want to be there come the end of the season but we know it will be difficult.
“There will be games where we don’t perform well and lose. That happens in the league. We will never get carried away or downbeat if we don’t pick up one or two results.”
Saints looked more like the side which registered away wins against Rosenborg and FC Minsk earlier this campaign with a resilient second-half display against Celtic last Saturday, as they narrowly missed out on earning a late draw at Parkhead.
They did, however, follow up the 2-1 defeat to Celtic with a 3-0 success against Accies and Wright now wants to see further improvement when his side host Partick Thistle today.
“The second half was better against Celtic. We passed the ball better and were not under any threat. And Tuesday night was better too. We created a lot of scoring opportunities and had a lot of energy about us. We were excellent. Now I’m looking for the same kind of performance against Thistle.”
Wright will welcome back fit-again Murray Davidson today after the midfielder injured a knee in the defeat to Celtic and missed the win over Accies.
Thistle boss Alan Archibald, meanwhile, is hopeful Stuart Bannigan is fit for the trip to Perth. The midfielder missed Wednesday’s League Cup tie against Dundee United at Tannadice with a groin strain but expects to return. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair picked up a knock against United but should be fine although Jordan MacMillan misses out again with an ankle knock.
Bannigan admits being slightly concerned that Thistle have struggled in front of goal since coming up into the top flight this season. The Jags have scored seven goals in seven league games to take them into seventh place but Bannigan believes they could be further up the table if more chances had been converted.
He said: “In most games we’ve played in, we’ve actually dominated possession or had the bulk of possession so we have to start converting that into goals. It has been hard. Teams are quicker and sharper around the box and will punish you if you give them a chance. So you need to be on your guard at all times.
“Maybe last year we would have got away with a bit more. Defences were not as good and we maybe scored goals a bit more freely but this year if we don’t take our chances, they go up the park and score against you.
“We have not won since beating St Mirren so we are looking for a good performance up in Perth.”