St Johnstone are becoming a Premiership team to be feared, according to Luke Robinson.
And they’ll be aiming to do a lot better than merely cling onto their top-flight status.
The on-loan defender was part of a famous Wigan survival battle to stay in League One when the club went into administration.
That was described as a footballing miracle at the time.
But there would be nothing miraculous about Saints moving up their league table.
Robinson doesn’t hope for it – he expects.
“We were worried at Wigan with the situation we were in.
“Never once have I felt that way here.
“Obviously it took a long time to get our first win, which wasn’t great for confidence.
“But I could see the quality we had every day and even in the games we weren’t winning, it wasn’t a case of us being miles off the other team.
“I include the 4-0 at St Mirren in that.
“There are teams around us who we’ve played better against and we’ve beaten teams above us.
“We feel as if we can take it to any team. We’re a really tight-knit group.
“We’ll be pushing to get as high as we can – top six or higher.
“Like I said, there are teams above us who I don’t think are better.
“We won’t fear anyone.
“Now that we’ve got a proper style of play, I think teams should fear us.”
Hearts defeat not a step back
Saints didn’t get their first win (or even first goal) on the road.
But Robinson believes the performance level represented a step forward in the bigger picture.
“There have been a lot of times when we’ve gone a goal behind and there hasn’t been a belief that we could get something,” the former Scotland under-21 international explained.
“Today was totally different.
“It never felt as if we were out of the game at any point.
⏪ Craig Levein suffered his first loss as St Johnstone manager as he returned to face his old club Hearts, who are just two points off third spot ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/whWKrIMddd
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) November 25, 2023
“I had a chance in the first half – I probably had more time than I realised. It’s gone straight at their keeper and he’s saved it.
“They’ve had a chance and it’s taken a deflection and gone in. That was the difference.
“But we’ve been on a good run performance-wise and hopefully this has continued that.”
‘Fitter, quicker, sharper’
Not only is Robinson now an ever-present in the Saints starting line-up, he’s a regular man of the match contender.
“This is the best I’ve ever felt in my career,” he said.
“I feel fitter, more robust, quicker, sharper.
“That comes with regular game-time.
“Macca gave me that and the new manager and Andy (Kirk) are now as well.
“I’ve played various positions and felt comfortable in all of them.”
Robinson added: “The manager wants us to be confident on the ball.
“He says: ‘If we give it away, I’ll take the blame’.
“We’ve got good players but we hadn’t really been doing that.
“We’re starting to break through teams, create chances and score goals.
“We’re working on patterns of play on the training ground – 20 or 30 minutes of the same thing.
“We feel like a new team on the ball.
“Tynecastle is one of the hardest places to come.
“If we’d taken something it wouldn’t have been a case of us nicking a result.
“We’d have deserved it.
“It’s Celtic next – we got a positive result against them earlier in the season and there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.”