ST JOHNSTONE supporters were brought back down to earth last season following ten years of constant success.

Top three finishes, European trips, a Scottish Cup and then a cup double, it was a dream for those of a Perth persuasion.

Callum Davidson’s first season as a manager could not have gone any better after he landed both the League and Scottish Cup, as well as a top six finish, but last term he was snapped right back to reality.

Saints managed to retain their top-flight status via the Scottish Premiership play-off against Inverness and despite it being a positive end, it was, without doubt, a season to forget.

The McDiarmid Park outfit started off their campaign with a Europa League showdown against Galatasaray, and after a heroic draw in Turkey, they were ultimately put to the sword at home.

LASK would follow in the Conference League, and despite an impressive showing in Austria, Saints failed to get the tie over the line in the return leg.

The season then began to crumble.

Key first-team stars Jason Kerr and Ali McCann departed the club on the final day of the summer window and Davidson, as a result, was forced to bring in new faces with little warning.

The replacements were not a patch on the double-winning duo and injuries to David Wotherspoon, Chris Kane and Craig Bryson added to the club’s woes.

To Saints’ credit, they reacted in January and added some Premiership quality that was ultimately needed. Tony Gallacher, John Mahon, Dan Cleary and Melker Hallberg all improved the squad, but results were still hard to come by.

A Scottish Cup exit to Kelty Hearts was the lowest point last season and after an altercation between players and fans, it looked as though Davidson may have been on his way out.

St Johnstone deserve credit for sticking by their man, with plenty of their Premiership rivals opting for a different course of action after a poor run of form, and the impulsive decision resulting in further failure.

The team deserve plaudits too for picking up important points in the final weeks of the season to guide themselves clear of Dundee and into the play-off, where they ultimately had too much for Inverness.

The show of relief from Davidson and his players at full-time was clear for all to see.

The League Cup group stage this season was the perfect opportunity for Saints to build confidence and bed in their new transfers ahead the Premiership campaign getting underway.

Unfortunately, this did not go to plan and the Perth outfit are already out of the competition following poor results against Annan Athletic and Queen of the South.

With this in mind, the jury is still out for the new campaign and recent performances point to another relegation scrap for St Johnstone.

The additions of Jamie Murphy and Graham Carey are welcome and will provide a new dynamic in attack, but questions can still be raised on whether those who have left have been replaced.

Kerr and McCann were joined by Shaun Rooney, Jamie McCart and Zander Clark this summer as the trio departed for pastures new.

A special mention must also be made for Callum Hendry, who headed for Salford City. Without his goals at the tail end of last season, Saints would simply not be in the top division.

At the moment it is hard to see where goals will come from in the Perth starting XI so they really must find a goalscoring striker in quick time, as difficult as it may be.

New first-choice goalkeeper Remi Matthews was announced yesterday, with the 28-year-old joining on loan from Crystal Palace. A big season will be needed from him too if Saints are to remain in the division.

Other additions include the experienced Andrew Considine and Ryan McGowan and former fan favourite Drey Wright. The former Hibs winger has looked sharp in his short pre-season so far and Considine and McGowan will help to guide a relatively inexperienced backline.

Celtic’s Adam Montgomery has also joined the club and he has looked a bright addition to the left flank. His pace and direct running going forward should also add to Davidson’s attack.

By the end of last season, a large portion of the St Johnstone support were calling for Davidson to go, but after guiding the club to safety he has more than earnt his position for the upcoming season.

Questions will again be raised following their poor start this time round, but it remains to be seen how his team will fare in the Premiership with other squads improving too.

Hibernian are up first with Rangers, Aberdeen and Hearts also to come within the first six fixtures of the season. It is a tough start and one that could well have a huge bearing on how the campaign will pan out as a whole.


Manager: Callum Davidson

Captain: Liam Gordon

Key player: Jamie Murphy. Saints added the winger to their squad after he was released by Hibernian at the end of the season. Murphy adds a different dynamic to what the Perth outfit had last year and he was a glowing light in a poor League Cup group stage.

In: William Sandford, midfielder (Free), Ryan McGowan, defender (Kuwait SC); Graham Carey, midfielder (CSKA Sofia); Andrew Considine, defender (Aberdeen); Jamie Murphy, forward (Hibernian); Drey Wright, forward (Hibernian).

Loan in: Adam Montgomery, defender (Celtic), Remi Matthews, goalkeeper (Crystal Palace), Alex Mitchell, defender (Millwall).

Out: Dan Cleary, defender; Jamie McCart, defender (Rotherham United); Shaun Rooney, defender (Fleetwood Town); Callum Hendry, forward (Salford City); Craig Bryson, midfielder (Stenhousemuir); Liam Craig, midfielder (retired); Sam Denham, defender (East Fife); Jordan Northcott, forward (Brechin City); Zander Clark, goalkeeper; Jacob Butterfield, midfielder; Nadir Ciftci, forward; Jahmal Hector-Ingram, forward; Efe Ambrose, defender.

Loan ended: Glenn Middleton, midfielder (Rangers); Tom Sang, midfielder (Cardiff City).

Loan out: Eetu Vertainen, forward (Linfield), Ross Sinclair, goalkeeper (Montrose), Alex Ferguson, forward (East Fife).

Last season: Terrible campaign all round. Survived a drop to The Championship by the skin of their teeth via the play-off against Inverness. Saints failed to recruit well and had a huge turnover of players. Team selections changed week after week, which didn’t help matters on the park.

Odds: 1000/1