Sir Alex Ferguson to make McDiarmid Park visit

Sir Alex Ferguson. Picture: PA
Sir Alex Ferguson. Picture: PA
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ST Johnstone chairman Steve Brown will today roll out the red carpet for Sir Alex Fergsuon.

The former Manchester United manager and one-time Saints player has accepted an invitation to take in the clash at McDiarmid Park this afternoon between the Perth club and Aberdeen, who Ferguson led to a string of honours.

His appearance will coincide with this month’s 50th anniversary of Ferguson’s hat-trick against Rangers at Ibrox when Bobby Brown’s newly-promoted Saints shocked the reigning league champions with a 3-2 victory on 21 December, 1963.

Brown said: “Everyone at St Johnstone is delighted and honoured that Sir Alex has accepted our invitation to take in the game at McDiarmid Park. The club will always be grateful to Sir Alex for bringing a star-studded Man United team north for the official opening of McDiarmid Park back in 1989, but I know older fans treasure fond memories of a young Fergie’s hat-trick at Ibrox.”

Signed from Queen’s Park, Sir Alex netted 22 goals in 45 games for St Johnstone between 1960 and 1964 before he left for Dunfermline.

Ahead of the game, St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright has said they has not been surprised to see Peter Pawlett flourish in the Aberdeen team this season.

Pawlett has been given a key role under Derek McInnes, playing both out wide and off the central striker, scoring twice in 18 games this season. The 22-year-old made nine appearances for St Johnstone in a five-month loan spell in the first half of last season and Wright, who was assistant manager at the time, feels the Perth club can take some credit for his recent progress.

Wright said: “Peter is a very good young player and someone I really like. He had injury problems here but we have to take some credit because we helped diagnose and get him on a programme which has helped him. And I think Peter Pawlett is a real handful and a top player.”

Meanwhile, Aberdeen striker Calvin Zola admits he may need to change his style of play if he is to keep himself on the right side of Scotland’s referees.

The Burton Albion frontman has cut a frustrated figure for much of his six-month stint with the Dons, having netted just three times in 17 appearances. And Pittodrie boss Derek McInnes admits the burly striker’s mood has hardly been helped by his continual run-ins with the match officials who have taken issue with his combative style.

Zola, 28, has given away 22 fouls so far but says he may have to tone down his approach if he is to avoid adding to the three bookings he collected this term.

He said: “The treatment I get from referees up here is new to me. In ten or 11 years in the game, I have never experienced anything like it. My game hasn’t changed much. But I’ve come to a new league and new referees and it is different. I’m penalised at times when I’m barely doing anything. It makes me think I should change my style of play a little but that isn’t easy because I’ve been playing this way for so many years.”