St Johnstone's history-making team being dismantled as Hibs and English clubs make their moves
There is a certain inevitability about the all-cup conquering St Johnstone team being broken up this summer, but it will still come as a blow to their supporters that such a decorated group is about to be dismantled.
Having won both the League and Scottish Cup in the 2020/21 campaign, some joked that manager Callum Davidson may be best advised to call it a day, unable to top what he’s just achieved. His job is about to get harder, as predators circle for his gems.
Davidson himself will be on the list of many clubs and Saints chairman Steve Brown will no doubt be fretful of the day jobs in England’s Championship and League One come up, but for now it is about maximising the value of his history-making team and making sure a sizeable loot is garnered.
Of the starting XI that vanquished Hibs in May to win the Scottish Cup, it is conceivable that up to four of the men who played at Hampden will not be in place for their league opener on July 31 away at Ross County.
Their most prized asset is Northern Ireland international midfielder Ali McCann. The 21-year-old has another two years on his St Johnstone contract, which means that the Perth outfit are in a good bargaining position. Many clubs in England are strong admirers of him and will be tempted to test the water with a bid. Given that he has been capped five times by his country, St Johnstone would be quite within their rights to demand a seven-figure fee for McCann, and it is anticipated that there will be a buyer willing to stump up that cash.
More pressing for St Johnstone though are the futures of three of their defenders. Their much-vaunted backline was one of the main reasons why Davidson’s side had such a successful season – but it feels like it is on the cusp of being pulled apart.
Shaun Rooney, quite rightly the darling of the St Johnstone faithful, is expected to move to Rotherham. The Millers had an opening bid of £200,000 thrown out, but are expected to come back in with a higher offer. Rooney scored the winner in both cup finals and the right wing-back is a talisman of this team. The signings of Millwall duo James Brown and Hayden Muller suggest his departure is imminent.
Out of the back three of Jason Kerr, Jamie McCart and Liam Gordon, only the latter has been quiet on the rumour front. Bournemouth and Wigan are supposed to be leading the way in the chase for captain Kerr, who has all the attributes to play at a higher level, while Hibs are reportedly chasing the signature of McCart. An opening bid of £200,000 is understood to have been thrown out, but Hibs want another centre-half and will come back in for him. Losing two of the trio would be a massive blow for the Saints. Both Kerr and McCart are in the final year of their contracts.
If this all comes to pass, spare a thought for St Johnstone’s supporters, who have not been able to witness this group in the flesh due the pandemic. There is a real chance some of their heroes will leave without the adulation they deserve, let alone a goodbye.