Survival still the aim for Callum Davidson as St Johnstone boss previews the new campaign

AFTER St Johnstone’s successes in recent years some may view the Perth club as an undoubted top six club – but for manager Callum Davidson, that is not the case. 

Saints dominated the trophies in Scotland last year by landing the Scottish and League Cup crowns.  

But for Davidson avoiding relegation will always be the aim due to the resources that the McDiarmid Park outfit have at their disposal. 

St Johnstone travel to Dingwall for their Scottish Premiership opener on Saturday before heading to Istanbul on Thursday for their Europa League first leg showdown with Turkish giants Galatasaray. 

With a huge European match to come it would be easy for Saints to turn their attention to matters further afield, but Davidson insists that is far from the case. 

Asked if staying up was the priority this term, Davidson responded: “You know me too well. First and foremost we need to make sure we concentrate on the league. The players have games to look forward to but first and foremost we have Saturday.  

“We need to be really focussed for it. Training has been really good this week. There is a sense of excitement among the boys to get into that first competitive game.  

“I don’t really look at games ahead. I will be fully focused on Ross County until Saturday night then I will start to drift towards the next game.  

“The players are the same. It is probably wrong of me not to say it is at the back of their minds, but we have a really important game coming up. We have more Covid testing than most at the minute with us doing PCR tests for Europe.  

“We will train Friday and travel up the road then prepare for the game as best as we can.

“I never really liked pre-season games myself. I just wanted to get through them, get fit and crack on with the league. I know the players and they know their roles. We know what we are doing.  

“I just have to remind them of things to make sure we are doing well. My theory is that we can do better than what we did last season. I will be looking to improve on that. The lads know their jobs and they will be prepared.”  

Ross County come into this weekend’s game fresh off the back of a Covid-19 outbreak within their ranks.  

That meant the Highlanders missed out on qualification for the later stages of the League Cup and Davidson has sympathy for Malky Mackay’s side. 

He said: “I don’t think it impacts us on any way but knowing what we went through I will always have sympathy for any team that goes through it.  

“It is disruptive and very unknown. I think they have come back and they have all played games so it won’t really affect us in our preparations.   

“I probably haven’t seen enough of them as I have other teams so that is probably the only thing different.  They have a strong squad up there so it is going to be a tough game.”  

Saints well be cheered on by 300 Perth supporters in Dingwall and Davidson admits their support will prove vital during a tough run of games.  

He continued: “[After winning the double] for me it is how we keep that motivation there. I need to keep them motivated and driving forward. That is my job to do that.  

“If the standard slips then it is me who takes responsibility for it. I need to make sure they are fully focussed and they want to go and achieve something great this season as well.  

“We played well last season, I wasn’t happy with some results so maybe that is where we will look to better it. 

“It’s fantastic [that we will have some fans cheering us on in Dingwall]. I think there will be a different style of games and players will be pressured into doing things they might not have last year.” 

Davidson also provided an injury update, adding: “We have a couple of wee niggles at the moment, but you always get that around pre-season. We are touch and go with two or three of them so we will need to wait and see.”  

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992