Saints have little chance of securing European football before the Celtic Park showpiece on 17 May – they are 12 points off third place – but they can cut the deficit on Dundee United to three when they host their final opponents today. The club and city of Perth have been euphoric since May’s double took Saints past Aberdeen in the semi-finals but the 21-year-old has his sights set on a top-four finish before thinking about cup glory.
“It was a bit hectic on Sunday night but it’s good to see the city getting behind the club,” May said. “It’s been brilliant. It was a great achievement and we owed it to the fans. It’s been a long time in terms of Scottish Cup finals – the first in 130 years. I think that says it all. It makes it that bit sweeter that it’s the first time.
“We’ve got a lot to look forward to but we still have a lot to play for in the league. We still fancy our chances to move up a couple of places so there are a lot of important games left. We want to catch Dundee United.”
May followed his historic double by being named on the PFA Scotland young player of the year shortlist and he admits this week has vindicated his decision to stay at Saints last summer beyond all doubt.
May, who has struck 25 goals this season, said: “The big decision was at the start of the season. I just needed that reassurance I would get my chance. Looking back it was definitely the right decision. The whole goal when I was out on loan for two seasons was to play first-team football at St Johnstone.”
And May would not rule out extending his deal beyond the end of next season after manager Tommy Wright hinted contract talks were in the offing. “I’m still waiting to hear what’s going on and looking forward to hearing from them,” May said. “I would never rule out signing again. The club have been good to me and I owe them a lot. We will sort that out in the coming weeks.”
Meanwhile, Dundee United midfielder Ryan Gauld and his youthful team-mates were determined to prove they were as strong as any previous Tannadice squad following gloomy predictions.
Having helped the club reach the cup final, the 18-year-old continued a memorable week when he, too, was named on the PFA Scotland young player of the year shortlist along with club colleagues Stuart Armstrong and Andy Robertson. United are also looking to continue their push for a European place through the Scottish Premiership.
Manager Jackie McNamara’s success this season comes despite warnings from predecessor Peter Houston that the club risked going backwards after cutting the wage bill.
Gauld said: “We have some very good players, so you would be hoping we’d be up in a top-four spot. I think it’s as good a squad as there has been in previous years. So the high standards were still there, expecting to do well in the cups and get a top-six finish. Everyone wanted to show we were worthy of playing and that it was a strong squad. I think we have shown that this season.”