How St Johnstone's Callum Davidson could place himself in the pantheon of Scotland managerial greats
The serenity seeming to have enveloped St Johnstone in recent times was certainly punctured with news of two positive Covid-19 tests among their squad.
With another two players adjudged close contacts of the pair that have contracted the virus, Callum Davidson now has four fewer options for his starting line-up and bench in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against St Mirren.
Yet, with the novice manager having displayed navigational powers that would put Christopher Colombus to shame in this extraordinary odyssey of a season for the Perth club, few would bet against him overcoming the choppy waters of recent days to plot a course to a second domestic final this season.
Should Davidson be able to steer his men to such a victory, on the back of guiding his club to their first ever League Cup triumph, he would place himself in exalted company – even before contesting a second domestic final inside three months.
It is well understood what is on the line for St Johnstone if they can achieve the cup double. Outside Celtic and Rangers, only Aberdeen have achieved such a feat in the 75 years that the League Cup has been in existence. The Pittodrie have twice claimed both cups in the same season, the joint management team of Alex Smith and Jocky Scott doing so in 1989/90, four seasons after Alex Ferguson became the first man helming other than one of the Glasgow behemoths to do so.
Yet, winning the League Cup and then simply reaching the Scottish Cup final has been no picnic. A host of Celtic and Rangers managers have done so and sealed the deal in both – Neil Lennon and Brendan Rodgers most recently, with the luminaries’ list boasting Walter Smith, Alex McLeish, Martin O’Neill, Dick Advocaat, John Greig, Jock Wallace, Jock Stein, Scott Symon and Bill Struth.
Davidson could be days away from keeping heady company then. That extends to four other managers who fell short in the Scottish Cup final shortly after landing the League Cup – that fate befalling Graeme Souness in 1988/89. As it Tannadice titan Jim McLean in 1980/81. He led Dundee United to a second successive League Cup triumph with a derby dispatching in the final. Rangers, though, proved too strong for his men in to a subsequent Scottish Cup replay lost 4-1. George Anderson would have known how McLean felt. He helmed Dundee to the League Cup in 1951/52, before his team fought through to the Scottish Cup final against Motherwell. A famous double then was denied him in ruthless fashion with a 4-0 thumping.
The other close-but-no-cigar cup double manager is...and he isn’t. Prior to his glittering tenure at Rangers, Scott Symon made his name with East Fife, the dominant club in the first decade of the League Cup. He made them so, guiding the club to success in the second staging of the competition of 1947/48, before working the charm again in the it two seasons later. However, the Rangers he would take over four years later proved too strong for his Fifers in the Scottish Cup final at the close of the 1949/50 campaign. And with that 3-0 loss, it would transpire Symon lost out on being the only man to win cup doubles in Scotland with two different clubs.
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