St Johnstone’s Premiership fate is far from sealed, according to caretaker manager, Alex Cleland.
And the interim boss intends to help underline that point by guiding the Perth side to their first league win of the season before passing the baton to the next permanent head coach.
Victory over Kilmarnock on Wednesday night could bring Saints within touching distance of the pack above the bottom side in the division.
And it would undoubtedly raise McDiarmid Park morale in the wake of club legends Steven MacLean and Liam Craig being sacked.
“Am I confident we can get out of it? Yeah, I am,” said Cleland.
“I know the players and there’s enough in that dressing room to get us out of the predicament we’re in.
“There are plenty of games to go and we can go on a run.
“It’s not easy to do. You have to win a game to get on it but once you do you’ll get confidence back and get going.
“That’s what we have to aim to do. You have to stay positive and try to get some momentum because it’s huge in football.
“We have been in this league for a long time now and the aim is always to stay in it.
“It hasn’t been a great start, we know that, but there are a lot of games to go.
“We’re not cut adrift. There are plenty of points to play for – but we need to start picking up points.
“We have had a few seasons where we’ve started slowly but have managed to get through it.
“This season we have to battle our way through it again. We’ve showed in the past it can be done.”
Change can be a good thing
Saints have reaped the rewards of a dugout succession over the last decade but Cleland stressed that a ‘clean slate’ change can also bring benefits.
“This is a good club to work for and I’m sure there will be a lot of applicants,” he said.
“I’ve been here a long time and I have seen the club climb the mountain, get better and better every year.
“There are a lot of things that will appeal to a manager coming in. This is a well-run club.
“They might look to go a different way now and get someone who hasn’t been involved with the club before.
“The board have done a good job with that in the past and I’m sure they’ll get it right.
“When you appoint from within, you get someone who has worked with the players before and that’s a bonus.
“But someone new will have fresh ideas and that might be what it needs.
“Maybe the board will feel they need a different type of manager now because of where we are in the league, I don’t know.
“Those are the decisions they will make over the next few days or however long it takes.”
No self-pity for St Johnstone, says Alex Cleland
Kilmarnock are a team in form but Cleland will make sure they won’t be assisted by facing a defeatist Saints team.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves because if we do that we won’t win the game,” he said.
“We have to be positive – the players, the staff, everyone. We all have to muck in together.
“All I will say to them is what’s happened has happened, but we have more games and look forward to this one.”
Meanwhile, Cleland is confident that it will be a case of onwards and upwards for MacLean and Craig.
“Steven was just starting his managerial career so I hope he doesn’t get put off by what’s happened,” he said.
“He’s a great coach who has a lot to offer in the game.
“Liam too – he was growing all the time and you could see him getting better and better.
“They were two huge characters who had been here so long, so it was a very difficult day when we heard the news.
“I just hope they get back in soon because they have done so much for St Johnstone as players and coaches.”