ST JOHNSTONE manager Tommy Wright insists a top-six finish this season has given him “as much pleasure” as his famous William Hill Scottish Cup-winning campaign.
The Northern Irishman brought the trophy to Perth for the first time in the club’s 130-year history last term with a 2-0 win over Dundee United at Celtic Park.
Saints then saw top scorer Stevie May sign for Sheffield Wednesday and, although having no cup joy, Wright’s side have enjoyed another good season in the Scottish Premiership and with three games remaining they are battling with the Tannadice side for fourth place.
Ahead of the visit of United to McDiarmid Park on Saturday, Wright told Press Association Sport that he was “absolutely delighted with the performances this year”.
He said: “I have had as much pleasure out of this season - and people might not believe me - as I did last season.
“It has been a difficult season but I think it has been another great season.
“I knew it was going to be tough this season after winning the cup and losing Stevie May.
“We are not the type of club who gets £800,000 for Stevie May and says ‘right, we will put £400,000 of that in the budget’.
“I knew that wasn’t going to happen and that is good business and planning by the club.
“I have a chairman who runs the club right. I will fight for every penny more that I can get and he will give me reasons why he can’t (give me it), but we work together.
“People maybe do expect us to be automatic top-six finishers. But I know how much hard work the players put in to get there and they have done it four years in a row, which is tremendous.
“We have one point fewer than last year, the same number of wins, and we are almost guaranteed at least fifth place which is one place up from last year and we have done it against the backdrop of doing things off the pitch which has improved the club.
“So, overall, I genuinely take as much pleasure out of this season as last season.”
Fourth place will bring a Europa League qualifying place if Inverness remain in third and win the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Falkirk at Hampden Park.
“We have a plan for being in Europe and a plan for not being in Europe but neither plan can be confirmed until possibly quarter to five on May 30,” said Wright.
“It is not ideal but, and I am sure Jackie (Dundee United boss McNamara) will be the same, if we have to wait until the 30th of May to get into Europe it will be a wait that will be worthwhile.
“We have three games left. United have slightly the better goal difference which gives them the advantage but we are at home.
“Obviously the team that wins on Saturday will be in the box seat. The game is set up perfectly. There is a lot to play for.”