Jim Goodwin’s St Mirren are on course for a historic top six position – but the 39-year-old says everyone at the club has to keep their cool as development continues.
The Buddies have been a joy to watch at times this season, especially recently. After overcoming multiple Covid-19 nightmares at the start of the season, they have emerged as strong top six contenders, winning three of their last four, beating Celtic and Rangers too this term. He faces the Hoops again on Wednesday.
One player who’s been key to this is teenager Ethan Erhahon in the centre of the pitch, who represents everything Goodwin is trying to do for kids in his team: “Ethan Erhahon is one that’s had to adjust, not get carried away by the hype, not think he’s a world-beater.
“He keeps his feet on the ground and that’s the job of me and the staff to make sure these young lads don’t get carried away. You always get dips in performance and you expect that. I give them the opportunity to play their way out of it.
“Ethan burst onto the scene at the start of the season, had seven or eight really good games, then had a lull for three or four matches, which is natural. Then on Saturday he was back to what he is capable of. Ethan is only 19 and it’s important to remember as he’s a huge asset for us and a hell of a prospect for Scotland.”
St Mirren finished fifth in 1985 and their record finish in the Premier League era is 8th. Goodwin is on schedule to at the very least match that but what’s more likely is a top six place, given their form and multiple games in hand.
Former Scotland boss Craig Levein has talked him up this week as Scotland’s best young manager, as have many others, but Goodwin is keeping all boots on the ground: “It’s always good for your ego when people are talking you up in a positive manner.
“I sometimes need reminded of why things are going well. I am not daft enough to think it’s always going to be like this, I’ve had my dips in form as a manager too. But I am only 39, which is hard to believe as I look 58!
“I am learning all the time, learning with good quality players and testing myself against experienced managers. It’s always nice when Craig Levein, someone who I really respect, is talking me up in a positive manner. I am not stupid enough to get carried away as I could lose the next three matches and the wolves are at the door again.
“We need to stay grounded as I don’t want expectation levels to go through the roof. Our target is top six and we are sitting there at the moment. The only reason we will fall away from that is if we do that to ourselves as we are in the driving seat at the moment.”
Having already beaten Celtic once in the last few weeks, achieving St Mirren’s first win at Celtic Park since 1990, Goodwin is always trying to learn in order to get the better of these sides regularly. He’s already said that his attacking play won’t change when the Hoops arrive in Paisley.
Goodwin is also a football enthusiast and he’s taking tips from far and wide in the game: “You are always trying to learn and I watch a lot of football from around the world. I listen to the best managers do their interviews and I try to watch as many training sessions from the likes of Klopp and Guardiola. I listen to Brendan Rodgers talk after games.
“You have to do that as there is no point standing still. I certainly don’t know it all, I have a good backroom team I can bounce stuff off. I don’t have yes-men, I don’t like people agreeing with me all the time, I want people to challenge me.
“I’ve named starting XI’s, discussed it with my staff, and then changed it based off what they say. Ultimately I have the overriding decision but it’s important you listen to those closest to you. I have some good relationships with experienced people in the game, so if I need advice, I speak to them.”
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