St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson says his players will be giving everything to try to shock Galatasaray in their decisive Europa League clash – and says the whole club is “buzzing” with excitement about the game.
A 1-1 draw in Turkey in the first leg set up an ‘all or nothing’ game at McDiarmid Park on Thursday and Davidson says is another big challenge when his players will go up against a club with huge resources and a long pedigree of success in Europe.
He said: “For a club like us, to be challenging against Galatasaray, who are probably one of the sort of powerhouses of Europe… It’s a big challenge, a huge game and I think we’re all looking forward to it.
“We’re delighted we managed to take them back to McDiarmid with a chance. The players are all buzzing and I just need to calm them down a little bit.
The Perth side’s performance in Turkey to earn a draw was the latest from a side that has thrived under Davidson and won both domestic cup competitions last season.
The manager acknowledged the scale of the achievement already but said that sticking to the principles that had gotten them this far could bring even further success.
“I think a lot of people realise how good a result that was,” he said. “It is going to be so tough on Thursday night.
“A club like St Johnstone, who have 2,700 season tickets, compared to a team like Galatasaray, who have millions and millions of followers… If we manage to get any sort of result, that will be a phenomenal achievement for us.
“We know what we’ve got to do, and I just want to give the guys the freedom to go and play, express themselves, enjoy it, try and work on good shape and the work ethic we’ve had for a year, and you never know what happens.”
The club have been permitted to have a capacity crowd for the match and Davidson says it will be a special occasion in Perth.
He added: “European nights, under the floodlights at McDiarmid with a full house – I think all St Johnstone players, fans, myself, coaches, the hierarchy, it’s what we want, what we want to remember.
“We need to play the team, enjoy the occasion, and that’s what we’ll try to do on Thursday.
“We need to make sure we play against a team, rather than play the occasion, and that we’re focused right. If we do the right things and try to perform to a high level, it gives us a small chance to get through.
“Galatasaray undoubtedly are the big favourites, but it’s sometimes good being the underdog, the pressure is on the other team to go through.”