St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright is in a bullish mood ahead of Saturday’s flag day match against Celtic.
Wright’s side head to Celtic Park on Saturday as one of the real out-of-form sides heading into the campaign. They were knocked out of the Betfred Cup in the group stages, making way for Forfar to progress above them. Saints won just two of their four matches, losing to both Forfar and Montrose respectively.
There are nagging problems about whether they have enough up top too. They’ll arrive at Parkhead with only Chris Kane as a recognised forward. Saints could have a real problem finding gaps in this Celtic defence due to their lack of quality in the final third.
But Wright was quick to shoot down the snipers. Speaking in the Courier, the Northern Irishman stated that some need a reality check when they evaluate his side.
“It’s almost like there has been a black cloud over the place since we missed out on top six a couple of seasons ago. We have finished 8th and 7th since then, while bringing the age of the squad right down and looking to the future.
“I think people need to have a reality check. When we have Drey Wright, Mikey O’Halloran, Danny Swanson and Matty Kennedy up top – with a striker still to come – nobody can tell me that isn’t an exciting proposition.
“That’s as good as anyone outside the big two. Obviously the Betfred has put focus on us but as I’ve said, there were circumstances there. I can’t do anything about negativity if that’s what people want to create.”
Wright’s bullish mood has been earned
Yes, there’s a fine chance that Saints come to Parkhead with some important players missing. Drey Wright, Liam Gordon, and David Wotherspoon are all set to miss out. Meanwhile, outside of Kane, there isn’t a single senior striker available to step into his shoes.
Wright has earned the right to some of his own supporters easing off of him. Saints always tend to be there or thereabouts in the race for a top-six place. But for Celtic, everything seems to be lining up nicely for us ahead of flag day.
Pressure is clearly growing on Wright, who still hasn’t brought in a striker ahead of Saturday. It’s highly unlikely now, with just under three days until the game, that Saints have someone available to feature by then.
Things clearly aren’t well in Perth, and the start to the season has rocked the club early on. They’re looking as vulnerable as they’ve ever been under Wright heading to Glasgow, and we must take advantage.
What Saints’ poor Betfred Cup campaign has done is throw immediate pressure onto the players. They need to avoid a mauling at Parkhead, or heads really could go down even this early into a season.
So it looks as though Saints are coming to Celtic Park in a few days without several key players and no new striker as it stands. The latter could change, but even then, Wright’s words prove morale is low in the Saints’ dressing room.