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THE CONTENDERS: From John Robertson to David Healy, who is next for the St Johnstone job?

John Robertson, Steven MacLean, David Healy and Callum Davidson
John Robertson, Steven MacLean, David Healy and Callum Davidson

Geoff and Steve Brown are their own men and have gone about the job of being the St Johnstone chairman in their own way.

But the qualities they look for in a manager – with the exception of the two Johns, McLelland and Connolly, both of which are appointments Geoff regrets – are similar.

Top of the list of boxes that need to be ticked are extensive contacts in the game and strong dressing room leadership. They certainly applied to Owen Coyle, Derek McInnes, Steve Lomas and Tommy Wright and those strengths will be at the forefront of Steve’s mind when he is choosing Wright’s successor.

The favourites

Callum Davidson and John Robertson have extremely persuasive CVs but for different reasons.

Forget the fact that Davidson was a great player for the Perth club – that won’t be a relevant factor. It is the impressive body of work as an assistant manager that makes him arguably the candidate to beat.

He was Wright’s right-hand man in the glory years when a cup was won and Saints were a near permanent fixture in Europa League qualifiers. Davidson deserves a big share of the credit for the team’s defensive solidity that became their hallmark.

He was brought into Gordon Strachan’s backroom team with Scotland – and impressed the national coach. After being lured south to join Gary Rowett at Stoke City, he wasn’t out of work for long when the pair were sacked by the Midlands crisis club. Davidson helped steady the ship at Dunfermline alongside Stevie Crawford and has subsequently been reunited with Rowett at Millwall, where they have taken the London side from near the bottom of the English second tier to play-off contention.

Callum Davidson.

Davidson would be a highly popular choice with the Saints players (a Twitter ‘like’ on Saturday from David Wotherspoon confirmed as much) and could bring back Steven MacLean as part of his coaching team and/or promote Liam Craig.

Robertson has no Saints connections but very much has the look of a Saints manager.

He is by no means a veteran at 55 but has built up nearly two decades of dugout experience and has enjoyed more successes than failures in that time, the most recent of which have been taking Inverness Caley Thistle into the promotion play-offs last season and to second in the Championship table this time around.

You never hear Robertson moaning about budgets or cut-backs and he has built a reputation on improving players and getting teams to punch above their weight. Sound familiar?

The fact that two of his former players in the Highlands – Jamie McCart and Shaun Rooney – will be at McDiarmid next season won’t do any harm. The fact that he has been linked with Hearts in the event of Daniel Stendel departing Tynecastle complicates the plot, though.

The ex-players

St Johnstone aren’t one of those clubs who seem to be perpetually drawn to appointing a distinguished former player. Connolly is the obvious asterisk but, if anything, his failure hinders rather than helps the claims of the current generation.

There are some potential managers in the Scottish Cup-winning side but heroics on the pitch won’t give them a big advantage.

Steven MacLean is a natural leader with a full contacts’ book, as is Liam Craig. And they have as much experience as McInnes when he got the job, and marginally less than Coyle.

Steven MacLean and Liam Craig.

You can see both as Saints bosses down the road, and as assistants to Wright’s replacement, but it’s probably too soon just now for them to be the next cab off the rank.

Paul Sheerin’s name will get a mention but it’s now six years since he was a number one at Arbroath and if he had a burning desire to swap the comfort of Aberdeen’s youth academy for the volatility of first team management, you would have thought he’d have made the leap by now.

Graeme Jones is out of work after leaving Luton Town a couple of weeks ago but has never shown any inclination to return to Scottish football – or Saints any desire to approach him.

As for Jody Morris? Don’t even go there.

The outsiders

Lomas wasn’t on the bookmaker’s long list when McInnes went to Bristol City. Neither was Paul Cook, then of Sligo Rovers and now of Wigan Athletic, who was thought to be the Browns’ first choice in the winter of 2011.

So a left-field appointment can’t be ruled out.

The Saints job is an attractive one for a variety of reasons and applications will no doubt arrive at McDiarmid from people with big playing reputations and high calibre coaching ones.

With there being absolutely no urgency to choose a manager – and no fires needing put out on the pitch – the chances of Steve Brown going off the beaten track again increase.

David Healy.

The last two bosses have been Northern Irishmen of course, and an intriguing outsider to make it a hat-trick could be David Healy of Linfield.

A serial trophy winner at Windsor Park, Healy has two league titles to his name. A season in Scottish football with Rangers would also count in his favour.

ERIC NICOLSON: JFK moment for St Johnstone fans – Tommy Wright would take on any fight to defend his club

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