Aidan Smith: Kilmarnock can ignite big things for St Johnstone’s greatest ever manager Tommy Wright

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AIDAN SMITH

AS a self-proclaimed St Johnstone diehard today has admittedly been a strange day.  

I read a tweet that said it was like hearing your ex-girlfriend had moved on before you had – it certainly felt like something along those lines.  

Tommy Wright is a legend in the eyes of everyone connected with St Johnstone Football Club, so to hear his name followed by the words Kilmarnock manager sent a peculiar feeling into the heart. 

But despite the emotional response, there was also a great feeling of delight to hear that the big man was back in the game. 

Wright departed Perth in the summer after seven glorious years at the McDiarmid Park helm. A Scottish Cup triumph, five top six finishes and four European campaigns were just three of several fine accomplishments that he achieved. 

The Northern Irishman is also credited with bringing through the likes of Zander Clark, Jason Kerr, Liam Gordon, Chris Kane and Ali McCann, who are now mainstays in Callum Davidson’s current set-up. 

With the aforementioned in mind, and probably some additional feats I’ve missed, Wright goes down as the greatest St Johnstone manager in their history. 

Kilmarnock are very fortunate to have the former Newcastle and Manchester City goalkeeper on their books and there is no doubt in my mind that he is exactly the man they need to turn their fortunes around.  

The first task for Wright will, of course, be to keep his new side in the Scottish Premiership – and he seems to be an expert at that.  

I have lost count of the number of times during Wright’s Saints stint when you would say to yourself ‘that’s it our bubble has burst, we are going down’, but then somehow, he would miraculously conjure up a top half finish year after year. 

Miraculously may be the wrong word to use though, as all Wright’s achievements were down to endless hours on the training field, continually getting the best out of his players, and instilling a huge sense of belief into his dressing room. 

Belief is what Kilmarnock are lacking at the minute, but Wright will get their squad, which is strong on paper, believing that they can get themselves out of the current relegation battle they are in. 

Wright’s win percentage record with St Johnstone puts him higher than every Rugby Park boss since Tommy Burns back in 1994 – with the obvious exceptions of recent successes Steve Clarke and Mixu Paatelainen.  

Clarke’s stunning spell in charge of Killie cemented his place in the history books of the Ayrshire outfit, before ultimately helping to land the dream job of managing his country. 

Many were shocked when Wright was overlooked for the Northern Ireland vacancy after he left Saints in May, but he will still have aspirations of ticking that gig off his managerial bucket list. 

I don’t imagine Wright envisaged himself leading Kilmarnock when he decided to take a break from football last summer, but this is a further opportunity to reaffirm that he is not only a top manager, but a top coach. 

Assuming Wright works his magic at Killie I would be extremely surprised if he is not facing offers from down south or even his pinnacle of international management 18-months down the line.  

After everything Tommy has delivered for St Johnstone fans over the years, I’m sure I speak for all when wishing him every success in his new position. 

All the best, Sir Tommy! 

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