Oct 25 2011 Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
SAINTS are riding high in fourth spot in the SPL but yesterday caretaker manager Alec Cleland laid the credit at the door of departed duo Derek McInnes and Tony Docherty.
The Perth club nudged ahead of Hearts with a weekend share of the spoils at Tannadice.
Cleland, who is eager to step-up into management after U19 coaching roles at Livingston, Inverness and Perth, admitted he and skipper Jody Morris have been using a ranking unrivalled since European qualification under Sandy Clark more than a decade ago as an incentive in the dressing room.
“Before the United game we pointed out we could go third ahead of Celtic if we won. Now we are in fourth spot on our own and that will be used as a carrot for the players as we move on,” he said.
“It’s great looking at the table and it is a credit to all the hard work put in by Del and Doc. It would be silly to claim it was down to us. We are just determined to keep the momentum going.”
While Morris made it clear he wants to play on for a few years yet, Cleland, who welcomed the “superb” vocal derby backing from more than 1100 Perth fans, stressed: “The next step for me is management and the board know that. I feel I am ready for it.
“But nothing has changed as far as I’m concerned. Jody and I have been put in charge of the team until we are told otherwise.
“Appointing any manager is a big decision and the chairman will want to make sure he has the right man.
“We are taking training and handling the Tuesday reserve game against Inverness. Everything is being geared towards the St Mirren match this weekend and we will get to see them in action in the cup against Ayr, which is a bonus.”
Cleland has been delighted with the response from the Perth players since they lost the management to Bristol.
He said: “It was a difficult week for the players and obviously things are a bit uncertain. We know the lads talk about the managerial situation but they have handled it very well and just as we would have expected from this group.
“Jody and I thrashed things out quickly about how we were going to prepare for the game, the team talks and what happens during matches.
“Obviously he is club captain, a big player for us and highly respected so I was always going to give Jody his place. We even discussed the substitutions at Tannadice and Jody turned in a very professional performance himself against United.
“I have been caretaker before but this is great experience for both of us, no matter what the immediate future holds.”
Cleland revealed that midfielder Murray Davidson and striker Cillian Sheridan are both in contention for the Buddies game in Perth. They missed out in Dundee with knee and hamstring injuries.