Paul Chalk reports
Saturday, May 2
WITHIN minutes of St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright announcing his exit from the Scottish Premiership club, Caley Thistle manager John Robertson was installed as the bookies’ favourite to replace him. Wright is being tipped to become the new Northern Ireland boss.
Robertson topping the list so swiftly opens up questions, although two former managers of north clubs will also be considered. John Hughes, who guided ICT to the 2015 Scottish Cup, must surely be a contender, along with Jim McIntyre, who won the League Cup with Ross County in 2016. They are 12-1 and 16-1 shots in the early list from McBookie.com.
My column last week briefly touched on what happens now in relation to John Robertson at Inverness. Right now, he’s in a tricky position while Scottish football decides whether to reconstruct the leagues. A top-flight expansion would catapult Caley Thistle back to the Premiership.
As things stand, Robertson is a Championship manager and he’s already suggested that he’s 90 per cent sure that ICT will remain in tier two whenever football returns. The Championship season was, of course, called in April and ICT finished in second spot, well adrift of Dundee United, who have been promoted as champions.
Robertson will be working on recruiting Championship-standard players, who he believes have it in them to do a job for him in the Premiership should the SPFL vote for such a dramatic change in our divisions’ make-up.
An attractive job at a well-run club like St Johnstone, just two hours down the road, springing up out of the blue might make his ears prick up, even if his phone is not ringing just yet.
I gauged reaction from a few Saints fans on the possibility of a move for Robertson and their response was warm to the idea. They appreciate he’s done a fine job in taking ICT deep into cup competitions and as the best of the play-off teams in the Championship. He manages a cash-strapped club and was never likely to challenge United for the title. It wasn’t an even match.
If you were Hearts legend Robertson, would you jump at the chance of bossing St Johnstone? He hinted last week that the Hearts job would be of interest one day as he aims to show the regime of 2005 were wrong to axe him from the Tynecastle hot-seat.
He added, however, that he enjoys his life and work in Inverness and said in an interview that he’s aiming to improve Caley Thistle – at whatever level they find themselves in.
However, the chance to be reunited with two players he signed for the Caley Jags may be added temptations for Robertson. Defender Jamie McCart has settled in well at Saints since his January switch, while full-back Shaun Rooney has joined the club on a pre-contract and has played his last game for the Caley Jags. The Inverness side will have a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup final against Raith Rovers to look forward to, having seen it postponed in late March until further notice. However, 55-year-old Robertson is only one year younger than Wright and may well feel a move to a club already in the Premiership would be too good to ignore should the early speculation become reality.
Yet, maybe ICT fans who want Robbo to stay will be confident that St Johnstone are not a big enough club to lure him away. Certainly, both sides could do with a much stronger home support. Could Robbo carry on the excellent work of the popular Northern Irishman?
Plenty of questions arise from Robbo being installed as the favourite for the job. Have your say on this – join the discussion on my Alive and Kicking Facebook and Twitter pages.
Autumn football is the very best we can hope for
WHEN football returns in any form in Scotland remains a lively discussion.
Clubs all over Scotland are fighting for their futures with cash not coming in through the turnstiles or from the hosting of events. But the signs are that when the lockdown is over life will not snap back to the way it was in March. Social distancing will be in place with venues of mass gatherings will be monitored closely. How does that work within football stadia?
Looking at countries around Europe, I see the French have ended their season amid a furious response from relegated Tolouse. They have also stated there will be no competitive action until September and I see no reason to suggest we will be far off the same timescale here.
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