Jim Spence: Brighter lights will soon beckon for Tommy Wright

September 2 2017, 10.30amUpdated: September 1 2017, 1.36pm
© SNS Group
Tommy Wright.

The new Forth road bridge is a marvel, but it’s not quite as amazing as the fact that no big club has yet poached Tommy Wright from St Johnstone.

The Saints manager may not qualify as the eighth wonder of the world, but there’s little doubt that he continues to confound critics with the results he and his players produce.

Last week against a Celtic side miles ahead of every other club in Scotland and unbeaten in 52 games at that stage, his team came within a whisker of ending that magnificent run.

Wright’s playing budget is a fraction of Celtic’s and many other Premiership outfits, yet he again showed that great organisational and management skills can narrow the widest of gaps on the pitch.

He has consistently achieved wonders at McDiarmid Park, and in lifting the Scottish cup in 2014 gave the Perth club their finest ever moment with their first major trophy.

A glance at the top table currently sees Saints sitting on the same points as Celtic and just two points behind leaders Aberdeen, four games into the season. These are golden years for St Johnstone fans. They are watching a team capable of matching any in Scotland under a manager who has brought them unparalleled consistency and success.

Wright has the rare knack of managing men, a skill which too few in the game can master. His easy going calm demeanour though, masks a determined steely individual who knows what he wants from his team and how to get it.

He doesn’t carry passengers. Saints don’t waste money and while they may be more than comfortable at the bank, they didn’t achieve that status by throwing money away. Wright has no money to squander and must manoeuvre skilfully in the marketplace to sign the kind of players he can organise into a solid and hard-grafting unit.

I am always astonished at two things. Firstly, the criticism Saints get for their low crowds: for the size of Perth, they are as well supported as anyone else. And secondly, the stick they take for their style of football: the object of the game is to win more than you lose, and they do that brilliantly.

Wright is a perfect fit for Saints, but his talents surely can’t go unnoticed much longer. Many thought that Hearts might make a play for him, but I suspect a big English Championship club will be his next berth.

At this stage in his career a sideways step in Scotland is pointless. He has proven that he can manage superbly on a tight budget, but must feel frustrated at constantly working within those restrictive boundaries.

Good managers will always want better players, and in England there is a plethora of big clubs, some of whom have fallen a long way from their heyday, who could match his ambitions with the kind of cash required to build at a higher level.

I’d be sorry to see him leave Scottish football and it’s not certain that he will, but with his managerial star in the ascendancy I suspect brighter lights will beckon soon.

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