St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson admits his first season in management has already exceeded his wildest dreams.
The Perth chief is in the running for the Scottish Football Writers’ Association’s Manager of the Year award after a stunning debut campaign in the dugout.
Davidson has led Saints to Betfred Cup glory – just the second trophy triumph in the club’s history – as well as masterminding a top-six Premiership finish.
There could be further celebrations to come if his side can edge out St Mirren on Sunday for a place in the Scottish Cup final.
Davidson can hardly believe what his team have achieved so soon – especially as his big goal before the season was merely to avoid a scrap for top-flight survival.
“Did I think any of this was realistically possible when I took over? Probably not,” admitted the 44-year-old former assistant to Tommy Wright. “If you’d looked at St Johnstone’s history at that point, we’d won one Scottish Cup in 2014 and that was it.
“It was always going to be a really tough job taking over from Tommy, who was so successful.
“I was just trying to make sure we stayed in the league. I’m not a negative person – I’m actually quite a positive person – but staying in the league was first and foremost.
“From late December onwards, the players have been brilliant and turned what could have been a difficult season into a phenomenal one.”
Davidson is up against some tough opposition for the manager prize.
Steven Gerrard is favourite having led Rangers to their first league title in a decade, while Scotland boss Steve Clarke is another frontrunner after masterminding Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualification.
Livingston boss Davie Martindale, who was in the opposite dugout from Davidson for February’s League Cup final, is the other nominee.
But Davidson would gladly stand aside in the race for individual honours if it guaranteed his team safe passage to the May 22 Hampden showpiece.
He said: “I’m delighted and very honoured to be named alongside the other managers nominated.
“How do I fancy my chances? Ask me on Sunday.
“It’s my first season as a manager and it’s all credit to the players for what they have done this season and how they’ve gone about their business.
“But if you ask me if I’d rather win manager of the year or get to the Scottish Cup final, I’d definitely go for the cup final.
“It’s a great honour to be up there as one of the nominees. We’ve had a really successful season no matter what happens on Sunday.
“But you want more. We all know that once you get that wee bit of a taste for success, you then drive towards it.
“When I got the job I did want success, but I didn’t quite expect what we have achieved so far.
“But now we’ve got this far, it’s a great opportunity to get some more.”