St Johnstone’s Liam Gordon hopes the side’s ‘no fuss’ mentality can help them to defeat LASK Linz and progress to the Europa Conference League group stage.
The Perth Saints were knocked out of the Europa League by Galatasaray last week but are determined to make the most of the second chance they have to succeed in Europe.
The Austrian Bundesliga side LASK stand in their way and it promises to be another exciting tie for Callum Davidson’s team as they look to upset the odds.
Gordon believes that the calm and steady approach Davidson used as he guided St Johnstone to a League Cup and Scottish Cup double last year will be key to any chances of success. The defender says the pressure is still there to perform but nothing is blown out of proportion.
He said: “It’s a tough one because you’re trying to get the balance of both, and the manager did it brilliantly last season because we had two of the biggest games with the cup double.
“It’s keeping us relaxed but also about knowing what’s at stake. He’s not the sort of manager that just plays it off, he knows what’s on the table and the players know that we need to be at it.
“On previous occasions this team has shown that they thrive off that. We all know the pressures of this game and how big it is but at the same time I feel that in the previous situations we’ve dealt with it really well as ‘just another game’. We know it’s not just another game but we go out with that mindset.
“Going back to Sunday there it was no different, going from that Galatasaray game to Arbroath. We were going in there with the same motivation as ever and that’s what’s obviously done us well in the past and hopefully can continue to do so.”
As the team prepare for the first leg at the Wörthersee Stadion on Thursday, Gordon reflected on the games so far and the special atmosphere at a sold-out McDiarmid Park for the visit of Galatasaray. He hopes for the same in the return leg against LASK and believes that securing group stage football and a run of European games until Christmas would one of the biggest achievements in the club’s history.
A St Johnstone fan as well as a player, Gordon admitted that the excitement of the important games did kick in, but he said that the minute the games start the team show the belief and confidence that they can compete on the big stage. The tie against Galatasaray was proof of that.
“You get on the pitch and you think ‘you know what, we back ourselves’,” and you come away from Istanbul with a 1-1 and it changes things,” he said. “You don’t just think ‘Let’s enjoy it, you deserve it blah blah blah’, you think ‘Let’s get a result here’.
“I feel like that’s what’s changed a lot at St Johnstone over the last year, even in the league campaign. You go away to Celtic or Rangers at times and it can be difficult but we go now thinking there’s no reason why we can’t win.
“We’ve won two national trophies and we’ve got that confidence about ourselves. At the same time we’re obviously very humble.
“We know we’re up against a good side in LASK but there’s no reason why we can’t go over there, get a positive result and bring it back to Perth.”