Michael Weir: New arrivals add intrigue to key Saints clash

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Pat Fenlon will hope last weekend’s Scottish Cup success over Aberdeen will lift the confidence of his players in a bid to return to winning ways in the SPL.

The gritty performance against the Dons epitomised a lot of our fixtures this season, managing to get our noses in front but having to display a resilience in the latter stages to see out the victory.

Most sides suffer inconsistency at some stage in the season but allowances must be made when injuries and suspensions take their toll, particularly when operating with such a small squad. Expecting the same XI to hit their peak week in, week out is a tall order and only underlines the necessity of having more bodies to call on within the camp.

As I mentioned last week, it was essential we acquired one or two during the transfer window with a need to bring a freshness to the side for the remaining months of the campaign. The newcomers who arrived at the club in the summer have performed remarkably well and deserve enormous credit for their contributions to the side which has transformed the club’s fortunes.

The one thing that you cannot do in football is stand still and rest on your laurels, however. Our recent displays in the SPL have not been acceptable in our quest to finish second behind Celtic where maybe our dip into the market has come at the right time.

Most supporters eagerly anticipate the debuts of new arrivals at their club, but it is those opinions of some supporters is what makes the game so intriguing. To be in a position to cast judgement over an individual after only one or two appearances is simply uncalled for. Great players including Henrik Larsson and Mark Hateley received scathing reviews from all quarters after indifferent starts to their careers at both Celtic and Rangers respectively, and look how their time in Glasgow went on to be received.

The great Bill Shankly was once queried about his decision to bring a young Emlyn Hughes to Anfield, who at the time was plying his trade with Blackpool. Shankly responded by saying the one attribute that was a must for every Liverpool player was displaying a natural enthusiasm for the game and that Hughes had this in abundance. This turned out to be a shrewd piece of business with Hughes going on to make more than 400 appearances for the Merseyside giants and captaining England.

On the other hand, I believe the everyday supporter who has followed their side through thick and thin is very much underestimated in their opinions of the game. Of course they will show favouritism when it comes down to promoting the positives at their own club, and sharing a joke about the misfortune of others, but fans are very much switched on with what they want to see out on the pitch on a Saturday afternoon and that is a winning, attractive playing football side. St Johnstone are the visitors to Easter Road tonight where their form has been a little out of sorts recently. However, they are a more than capable side and have produced some fantastic results to date, none more so than taking four points from six off of champions Celtic this season.

It will be interesting to see if Pat Fenlon makes a couple of changes to the side with both Scott Robertson and Matt Done eager to impress their new boss. Robertson, in particular, departed Dundee United with an excellent reputation hoping to hit the headlines in the English Championship. The move didn’t work in his favour, but he now has an opportunity to kick-start his career here in Edinburgh. With both Motherwell and Inverness slipping up on Saturday, it is vital we pick up all three points tonight and make our home advantage count. There are eight points separating ten sides at the moment, so there is little room for error as we edge closer to the split. We must ensure we remain a top-six club.