St Mirren V St Johnstone at St Mirren Park : Match Preview

18 October 2013 05:01
St Mirren V St Johnstone - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Lennon sorry for media outburst

St Mirren boss Danny Lennon has offered an apology to the Scottish media after accusing them of slighting his team.

The Buddies manager claimed before his team's 2-0 victory over Hearts in Edinburgh that journalists expected his team to "crumble" in the face of a rejuvenated Jambos side.

A defeat would have seen the Gorgie outfit - deducted 15 points for going into administration - close the gap on the Paisley side to just six points.

But goals from John McGinn and Paul McGowan at Tynecastle secured Saints' first win of the campaign and eased the pressure on Lennon, who reportedly faced the sack if his side lost.

Now Lennon says he was wrong to second guess what angle was taken by the media in the run-up to the game.

The Saints boss - whose side face St Johnstone at home in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday - said: "I owe an apology to a few of you guys in the media. In my comments before going through to Tynecastle, I said the press as well as 15,000 Hearts fans would expect us to go there and crumble and that it made for a nice exciting story that Hearts were getting closer, etc.

"But that was wrong of me. It's wrong of me to try and get inside anybody's head and and work out what they are going to write.

"I've been married for 18 years and I still can't get into my wife's head so it's wrong of me to try and get inside a journalist's head and [try to affect] what angle he is going to write his story on.

"For anybody who was offended by my presumption, then I sincerely apologise.

"I think the media has been great with me. It's difficult when you are going through the same situation and same media attention week in, week out.

"It can be difficult to talk about anything else and you are always trying to come up with a new angle. Sometimes that angle works for you because we can say it's everybody else against us. But the people who continue to write us off should continue to do so, because it seems to be working for us right now."

However, Lennon does admit that the negative press his side has received has affected his players.

He said: "We've made some small steps but there is a lot of work still to be done. It's great to see the boys with a smile on their faces because I think they get fed up with the media attention and what is written about them, the negativity. Professional pride hurts.

"But it's important the players go out there and write their own story by showing what true value."

Former Scotland winger Gary Teale will miss the match. The Buddies veteran has been ruled out with a groin injury after suffering a reaction to a pain-killing injection.

Defender Marc McAusland is nearing a return from an ankle knock but is not fit enough to face Tommy Wright's Perth side, while full-back David Barron is expected back from his own ankle injury around Christmas.

St Johnstone midfielder Gary McDonald has noticed a levelling out of the Scottish top flight since he returned from England this summer.

The 31-year-old left the Scottish Premier League for Morecambe after his Hamilton side were relegated in 2011.

A year later Rangers went into liquidation and McDonald believes there is little between the bulk of the teams in the Scottish Premiership as a result of the financial change.

McDonald, whose team travel to St Mirren Park on Saturday, said: "It has been fresh again for me after being away for a few years. Obviously things have changed with Rangers not being there any more, which has obviously not helped the league itself in the sense that clubs have lost money.

"But it has increased the competitiveness of the league, Celtic apart obviously, they will win the league.

"But outwith them, anybody can beat anybody on their day.

"With the position you are in, there is a real chance of getting into Europe like the boys did last season, if you put together a good string of results. That gives confidence as well, and that's the most important thing."

Saints showed what they are capable of when they beat early-season leaders Inverness 4-0 before the international break.

Tommy Wright's side also beat Ross County by the same scoreline in August and McDonald has targeted a run of wins to push them into the top half of the table.

"We feel we can beat anybody in the league on our day," the former Kilmarnock, Oldham and Aberdeen player said.

"We have got good players, boys at the back who are experienced and more than capable of keeping clean sheets, we have boys up front that are scoring goals, and as a team we have people all over the park who will hopefully get us goals. When you have that, you have always got a chance."

St Johnstone have also been on the end of a 4-0 scoreline, against Dundee United immediately after their win over County, so they are unlikely to take St Mirren lightly, especially after the Paisley side secured their first win of the season.

"They have just been waiting for that first win, they have been dying for that to come I'm sure," McDonald said.

"It was a great result for them winning at Hearts the other week. I'm sure confidence will be high in their camp but we feel on our day we can beat anyone."

St Johnstone remain without Steven Anderson and David Robertson.

Anderson was this week told he was unlikely to return from a dislocated thumb until the turn of the year, while Robertson has an ankle problem.

Wright's international players did not report back with any injuries.

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Pos Team Pld Pts
- Belgium 0 0
- Panama 0 0
- Tunisia 0 0
- England 0 0