People have questioned why Jim Goodwin speaks so openly about top six ambition at St Mirren – but it’s something the Buddies boss wants to inspire his players with.
The Saints face Motherwell on Wednesday night, their second game in hand after the SPFL overturned 3-0 forfeits for matches against Hamilton and the Well earlier in the season. It could put St Mirren four points clear in sixth with three games until the split.
Saints have never achieved a top six Premiership finish and Goodwin doesn’t want to be shy in hiding his ambition to reach that target: “A lot teams have gone about their business very quietly while we’ve probably been a bit bold with some of the statements that we’ve made early on talking about that top six.
“By making those statements publicly it puts us out there to be shot at. But I’m glad to say the players have so far dealt with that extra pressure we’re putting on them. With four games to go before the split we’re in the driving seat – but we don’t think for one minute it’s job done.
“I’m watching the form of St Johnstone, in particular. They’ve come up under the radar and are one of the form teams in the league with some very winnable games before the split, while Dundee United are right behind us as well.
“Some people have asked why do I put that added pressure on myself by talking about the top six. Well, I’d rather talk in a positive manner than just say to the players that we want to be a Premiership team next season.
“I think the message I give to the players is really important and just saying we want to survive is not one I ever want to give to them. I want them to know they’re at a club that’s ambitious and push hard for the top six. There probably are people out there using my comments as motivation on a weekly basis for their own team.
“Callum Davidson at St Johnstone hasn’t talked a lot about top six. I imagine he’ll be saying to his team, ‘Look at him over there talking about the top six. Let’s go and shut him up’. I don’t mind that. I don’t really care about what anyone else thinks about the comments I make.
“I care about what my players think and I think they’ve proved to themselves that they are good enough – and that’s the biggest thing for me. It’s about giving them that self-belief. Maybe they didn’t believe it early on but they certainly do now.”
The Well have lost their last two matches by an aggregate score of 7-1 but Goodwin knows they are in for a tough test: “Motherwell have a fantastic squad but they were crippled by injuries at the weekend against St Johnstone.
“We expect a few of them back on Wednesday. Motherwell are a really good team and their front three, Tony Watt, Devante Cole and Chris Long, are as good as any in the league. The last two performances haven’t been good enough by Graham Alexander’s own admission.
“He will be looking for a reaction but our form against Motherwell has been good, we haven’t lost in five. We have been given the chance to play these fixtures, any positive results are a good thing.
“We took a point from the Hamilton game which is more than we should have had a few months back before the appeal process. We are in a great place, anything less than a 3-0 defeat is a positive I suppose.”
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