Jim Goodwin thinks his St Mirren players deserve praise for dodging bullets this season, especially as the Paisley boss admits he was the one handing out the ammunition to their rivals.
The Irishman and Saints’ chief executive Tony Fitzpatrick have not been shy in making bold predictions of a top-six finish.
So far, things are going to plan with the Buddies a point ahead of seventh-placed Dundee United and just four games to go before the split.
But Goodwin knows that kind of big talk will only fire up Micky Mellon’s team and Callum Davidson’s in-form St Johnstone, who are also in the hunt for the top half two points back.
The Paisley manager, however, is refusing to apologise for setting his sights high.
Goodwin – whose team play their game in hand on United and St Johnstone when they host Motherwell on Wednesday – said: “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.”
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