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Callum Davidson: I have big job to do at St Johnstone after survival success

St Johnstone v Inverness Caledonian Thistle – Scottish Premiership – Play Off Final – Second Leg – McDiarmid Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson stressed he had a major job on his hands once the elation of their late escape from cinch Premiership relegation subsides.

Saints secured their top-flight status for a club record 14th consecutive season after netting four times in the second half against Inverness on Monday to seal a 6-2 aggregate play-off win.

Davidson is determined to ensure next season goes more smoothly after injury problems and the late sales of Jason Kerr and Ali McCann in August left his side up against it.

“We have got a really big job ahead of us, a really big job,” said Davidson, who claimed their play-off win was bigger than winning the Scottish Cup and League Cup the previous year.

“We started the season with a lot of injuries and lost a few players as we all know. I lost key players to injury, we had nine players out on Monday, probably seven or eight starters, and still managed to win.

“Credit to the squad, it is really important that we get that right. It will be a big ask and we will need to get the recruitment done and make sure we start the season strongly to give ourselves a chance to stay in the league first and foremost and then see what we can do after that.

“There will some comings and goings. We just need to make sure we get the right players in that fit St Johnstone and that character.”

The season had some highs, including a draw with Galatasaray in Turkey and a close encounter with Celtic in the Premier Sports Cup semi-finals.

But Davidson admits he learned a whole new side of management following his extraordinary debut campaign.

Saints recovered from losing their last eight Premiership games of 2021 – in between seeing their defence of both cup competitions end.

“Last season was fun,” the 45-year-old said. “Last season was really enjoyable. This season was mentally tough, we had to dig deep. I had to dig deep myself at certain times, when I thought ‘what more can I do?’

“It’s a really difficult time as a player but what we did was, we stuck together. We had a pact from January, we basically stuck together and all the boys bought into it, and finally we got there.

“I have learned a lot. I am a lot grumpier when we lose. I don’t particularly like losing. I don’t mind when we perform well. But it has asked me different questions than last year, a lot of different things to deal with.

“I am just glad as a group, my staff and players, that we have come through it.

“I am happy for all of them. I am happy for the club because relegation was a big, big, big worry in the back of my mind, people would be losing their jobs, wage cuts, all the rest of it.

“It’s great pressure trying to win a trophy but a lot different pressure trying to stay in the league.”

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