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Under-pressure St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson vows to keep fighting

Callum Davidson File Photo
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Callum Davidson was reassured that his St Johnstone players are up for their survival battle following talks in the wake of their shock Scottish Cup exit.

The Perth side’s trophy defence fell at the first hurdle as they lost to SPFL newcomers Kelty Hearts on Saturday.

The 1-0 reverse was their 10th defeat in a row and left Davidson feeling the heat little over six months after celebrating his second cup success of the season.

Chairman Steve Brown is backing him with new signings though – Cammy MacPherson the latest – and Davidson feels his players are up for the fight.

When asked if he felt from his chats with the chairman that he was under pressure,” Davidson said: “I don’t think I need to chat to Steve to answer the question. I feel under pressure, I am under pressure. He has backed me to get more players in.

“For me, it’s about staying positive. It’s difficult times but I definitely believe that if you shrink away from things at this time then you will be in trouble. I am going to be there fighting.

“I said that to the players. From now on, it’s what we do. You can’t change the past. If you want to wallow in the past and think about what’s gone on and feel sorry for yourself, then that’s not acceptable.

“We are going to get criticism. That’s a simple fact of football. I have been there long enough to know you are going to get criticism. Some of them like it, some don’t like it, some find it difficult. But for me, it’s what we do from now on to make sure St Johnstone survive in the league.”

MacPherson signed a contract until 2024 after making his loan move from St Mirren longer term.

Davidson also added John Mahon from Sligo Rovers on Sunday after previously bringing in another Irish defender, Dan Cleary, and bringing striker Nadir Ciftci back to Scotland. He has also recalled forward Callum Hendry from a loan spell at Kilmarnock.

“There’s going to be a change,” Davidson said. “We want to make positive changes and I want players that can make a difference. I don’t want a negative atmosphere around the place. We know where we are, we understand the situation.

“I spoke to the players and made it clear, if anyone doesn’t want to stay, then you can go. You can walk out the door. The positive reaction was they are all there, they all know.”

The players were left in no doubt about the strength of feeling among the supporters when they had to walk up the terracing to the dressing room after defeat by Kelty. There were some words of encouragement but others vented their anger.

“It was a minority,” said Davidson, whose team host Dundee in a cinch Premiership bottom-two battle on Wednesday.

“There were fans there that know where we are as a club. You talk about last season and previous years, we have been punching way, way above our weight. I think a lot of fans appreciate that.

“We were all disappointed. I didn’t want to go out the cup. I wanted to get to the final again. As much as they were annoyed, I was annoyed, the players were annoyed.

“We voice the frustrations in different ways, they only have one way to voice their frustration. We obviously took the brunt of it, but for me deservedly so at that point.

“To be honest I thought they were great on Saturday. They didn’t turn on us. Just at the end, we were all emotionally charged, we were all disappointed and upset.

“Having to walk through the supporters was very, very difficult and it’s not a nice thing to experience. But I thought they were brilliant on Saturday and stayed behind us.

“If they can stay behind us as much as they can, and I know there will be frustrations, then it definitely helps the players. Negativity is something we try to avoid.

“But first and foremost we have got to show them a little bit positivity and hopefully they will get behind us after that.”

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