Being told how unpleasant a team they are to come up against has long been a badge of honour worn by St Johnstone players.
‘Eklig’ was the description of LASK manager Dominik Thalhammer in the wake of last Thursday’s 1-1 Europa Conference League draw between the sides in Klagenfurt, and ‘disgusting’ the translation.
A slightly new way of framing it, pehaps, but the principle hasn’t changed in a decade.
And neither has the way the message gets received in the Perth dressing room.
“We take it as a compliment as it means we are doing something right,” said O’Halloran.
“We don’t exactly want to be a nice side to play against.
“He said we were horrible and that’s his opinion. We have shown we can do the dirty side of the game but we can also play good football.”
Thalhammer and his players were taken aback by the intensity of the Saints play in Austria and O’Halloran revealed that their opponents also caused a bit of a surprise with their tactics.
“We watched them before the game but I didn’t expect them to be so direct, especially in the first half,” he said.
“They were very direct but we will work on a few things and the gaffer will have us ready for Thursday.
“You don’t get any mediocre teams in Europe. They had a few really good players.
“The tie is wide open. It’s a one-off game and I expect both teams to have a go.
“That shows how far we have come, as we go away in Europe expecting to get a result.
“Hopefully our fans will come out and back us and we can make it a night to remember.”
A great chance for St. Johnstone to double their lead! 😮
Glenn Middleton just couldn't get the ball under control to get the shot off 😬 pic.twitter.com/35O4Uzje7A
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) August 19, 2021
Given the joy O’Halloran and Glenn Middleton got from using their acceleration to get beyond the LASK defenders, it would be a shock if that wasn’t a key part of Callum Davidson’s game plan for the second leg.
“At home we want to be on the front foot and in the ascendancy,” said the former Rangers man.
“It’s good we have pace in the team but we have plenty of other strengths.
“If you look at the team last week Kano (Chris Kane) was excellent and he led the line as well as getting a goal.
“In Europe his hold up play and that ability to buy you fouls in good areas is a real bonus for us.
“He has become a real goal threat. All good strikers score most of their goals in the six-yard box and he is getting himself in the right areas.
“It was a great ball in for his goal last week but Kano was in the poacher’s position to take advantage of it. It was like the Scottish Cup semi-final one.”
Chris Kane with a MASSIVE goal for @StJohnstone! 😱
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) May 9, 2021
“The bonuses have been mentioned!” joked O’Halloran.
“No, we’ll treat it like any other game.
“It maybe helps that we’ve got such a young squad. You’ve seen it in all the big games before – we don’t treat them any differently.
“We know the incentive. Playing football until December against some top European sides would be massive.
“The footballing side is more important to us as players than the financial side.
“It would be the chance to put yourselves up against big teams. There are clubs like Tottenham in this competition.
“You’ve already seen what it was like here for the Galatasaray game and Thursday is going to be a big crowd as well.
“To get three more big nights at McDiarmid Park would be unbelievable.”
The three-time Saints cup winner added: “Getting the draw over there has put us in a good position.
“It’s another cup final for us, another one-off big game.
“We’ve got experience in the squad and the feeling of invincibility you have as a young player.
“People say we’re horrible to play against but we’ve got some really good footballers as well.
“The more games we play in Europe, the better we’re getting.
“Hopefully we can get an early goal and put them under a bit of pressure to really come out. If they have to push forward that might suit us because we are good at defending a lead.”