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St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson wants to end historic campaign on a high – and is already laying groundwork for next season

Callum Davidson with the Betfred Cup trophy.
Callum Davidson has made history in his first season as St Johnstone manager..

Rookie manager Callum Davidson has steered St Johnstone from the basement to the verge of another top six finish.

And in a memorable first year in charge of the Perth club, he has made history by claiming the Betfred Cup.

But the former Millwall and Stoke City assistant, who was lured back to Perth to succeed Tommy Wright last summer, is already laying the groundwork for next season.

Two defeats in the last 12 games – to top two Rangers and Celtic – have transformed Saints’ campaign.

A win against Ross County next weekend allied to St Mirren spilling points away to Hamilton Accies will see the Perth side edge into the top six for the post-split series of matches.

“If we can make that final push and get into the top six, and results still have to go our way, then it would be a fantastic achievement for the team,” said Davidson.

“We have to produce a performance next weekend and hope things fall for us elsewhere.

“If we can do it then fantastic. If not, we then focus on finishing the season as strongly as we can.

“If we can stay in the league, in what has been a difficult season for everyone, and win the League Cup it’s a good year I’d say.

“The achievement for us after the start we made – we were bottom of the league at one point – is the way we have come out of it.

There has been a lot of grit and determination to go with the good football we’ve played and that’s satisfied me.

Saints celebrate at Hampden.

“At the start of the season, if the football had been poor and we’d been conceding a lot of goals then you could have put it down to a bedding-in period.

“But, for me, I don’t think it was that.

“We created a lot of chances and were strong defensively, but we were not scoring enough.”

Davidson is eager to nail down a clutch of his Betfred Cup winners on new deals.

And the one-time Perth No2 has learned lessons from his introduction to management.

Reflecting on the opening weeks of the campaign, when Saints won only two of their first 10 league games, Davidson pinpointed contributory factors.

A combination of injuries to key personnel and getting new recruits match-fit undermined his plans.

“Stevie May and Chris Kane were not fit, we brought Guy Melamed in but he wasn’t up to speed – so we had to rely on Callum Hendry,” recalled Davidson.

Callum Hendry is congratulated by David Wotherspoon.

“It was tough for Callum because there was so much onus on him and we didn’t have anyone there helping him.

“So the lesson is that next season we need everyone up to speed from day one.

“Sometimes if players don’t have clubs and you’re bringing them in then it’s hard to get them up to speed straight away.

“But looking back and assessing what happened in the first few months of the season, the thing I take from it is how much you need players right there to hit the ground running.

“We were unlucky with the injuries but it still showed you need the nucleus of your squad ready to go on day one.

“You can add one or two as you go along, but you don’t want to be adding more than that because then it becomes a struggle.”

Callum Davidson: It is important we get St Johnstone cup celebrations right

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