St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright is starting to eye a challenge for second spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership – but he knows his team’s winning run can be fragile if they do not remain focused.
Saints were 16 points behind Aberdeen after eight games, but will leapfrog the Dons into third place if they beat Dundee at McDiarmid Park tonight.
Confidence is high but we never get carried away. We know this game can change very quicklyTommy Wright
St Johnstone are looking for a sixth consecutive victory but Wright is equally aware that teams can suffer a downturn in form in Scotland’s top flight and wants to guard against it.
“Confidence is high but we never get carried away,” Wright said. “We know this game can change very quickly.
“What we have done, and it’s less than half way to the split, is give ourselves a good position to get top six and put pressure on Aberdeen and Hearts. Nobody is saying we are going to finish second but we have put ourselves in a good position to challenge.
“To do that we have to maintain the performances and results we have been getting because they are two very good sides and they will win more than they lose. Victory would put us eight points ahead of Dundee, which is good at this stage, but we keep reminding ourselves that last year Dundee United were 16 or 18 points ahead of us and we managed to pip them.
“We could get into third place with a win, maybe for only 24 hours, but we could do it. That’s an incentive and also it’s a derby and derby games are a wee bit special.”
Aberdeen quickly went from winning their first eight games to losing 5-1 at home to Saints.
“That’s how it can change so quickly, Aberdeen haven’t done a lot wrong and then they lose and that can happen so quickly in this league,” Wright said.
“That’s why we have to stay focused.”
The Perth side look to have real strength in depth this season and Wright is trying to sign more players on extended contracts following skipper Dave Mackay’s new deal, in an attempt to continue the club’s recent stability.
“We don’t look to have to bring in seven or eight in the summer,” he said. “I know that doesn’t excite the fans sometimes but we plan. We are already talking to one or two who are coming out of contract and we are a wee bit down the road with those.”
Meanwhile, Dundee manager Paul Hartley believes the club’s proposals to play Celtic in the United States would be a positive way to promote Scottish football.
Dundee and Celtic have held initial talks about playing a Premiership match in the likes of Boston or Philadelphia.
The SPFL and Fifa would both need to authorise any overseas encounter, but Hartley is sure the idea is worth exploring.
Hartley said: “We are always talking about trying to make the game better and promoting it and getting more people watching the Scottish game.
“We understand the financial side of the Scottish game now also, where we can’t rely on crowds and TV.
“If it does happen, then great. For clubs, coaches, managers, clubs, Scottish football as a whole, it could be an interesting prospect.
“But I think we are a long way away. But if there’s a game goes ahead whenever, we will go and play it.”
Dundee head for McDiarmid Park today with Hartley aiming for three points following his side’s 1-1 draw with Hearts at Tynecastle last weekend.
“We are going there to try to win the game,” he said. “We know we are up against the form team just now, but we know on our day we are as good as anybody. And we have already shown that this year.
“We are hard to beat, we never give up, we show great desire.
“If we can get a good result we jump right into the top six.”
Meanwhile, Hartley brushed off questions about reports that a Dutch consortium was set to invest in the club and take over the youth set-up, following the departure of the club’s head of youth Gerry Creaney. “I don’t really know anything about it,” he said. “I concentrate on the first team.”