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St Johnstone boss looking to round off ‘excellent’ 2016

St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright.
St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright.

If St Johnstone can extend their unbeaten run to six in their next two matches and get at least four points in the process, it will finish off an “excellent” 2016, according to manager Tommy Wright.

A Tayside derby at Dens Park is their last fixture of the calendar year on Hogmanay, with Rangers visiting McDiarmid Park tomorrow night.

Wright does not want to get involved with any talk of challenging Hearts, Aberdeen or even the Ibrox club at the top end of the Premiership, but he is well aware that the Perth side find themselves in a very encouraging run of form.

“We like to keep things nice and quiet,” he said.

“We just do what we have to do each game. We’ve only lost six games and have a great away record stretching back to April.

“I think we’re a team nobody likes to play but whether we can get enough wins consistently to break into the three above us who knows.

“They all probably have a bit more quality than us, although we have different qualities which make up for that.

“Whether that will be enough to break in with them, we’ll have to wait and see.

“All we’re focused on is getting points in this game and then move on to the next one.

“This league is so tight, look at the teams below us, so we want to finish 2016 well.

“If we can get more than three points from the next two games then it will be an excellent end to the year and set us up nicely for coming back.”

Wright added: “I think they (Rangers) will finish second, although Aberdeen in particular and also Hearts will have something to say about that.

“If you look at the resources they have then they should be, but it’s not all about that.

“I think you’ve seen this season how tough this league can be at times because it’s tough.

“They walked away with the Championship last season but this year, with better teams, better players and teams set up a bit better shows a different quality.

“I don’t think that would have surprised Mark or his players, but maybe some of the supporters and people in the media thought it would be easy for Rangers.

“Beating Celtic in the semi-final last season probably gave some people hope they could challenge for the title this season.

“But for me they’re certainly one year too early for that because Celtic have moved onto another level compared to previous years.”

Wright, who watched Rangers in action against Inverness Caley Thistle on Saturday, has detected a bit of pragmatism in the Glasgow club’s style of play recently.

He explained: “Rangers have tried to get the ball into the opposition’s half quicker and gone a bit longer with their passing at times.

“I think they’ve felt teams have camped in against them and when they make that extra two or three passes it helps the opposition do that.

“They are a good side and if you let them play they can hurt you.

“Martyn Waghorn is back scoring goals as well, so that is a big help to them.

“They have won four in a row, which is a good stat if you’re at another club, but there it’s just a stat because you are expected to win every game.

“The expectation there hasn’t changed, it comes with the territory of being at Rangers and Mark knows that.

“They are on a good run but we believe we can cause them problems.

“Rangers rely on possession football but not many teams other than Celtic have dominated us.

“I like possession football but it’s not the be all and end all because the facts show it’s not always the team with most possession who win.

“That’s the same in every league across the world.

“We played Motherwell here recently and had 65% possession but didn’t win the game.

“So it’s all about where you have possession and what you do with the ball when you’ve got it.

“I think we’ve got enough in our squad if we move the ball well, get it into Rangers’ half, then we can cause them problems.”

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