Stephen Robinson believes his St Mirren team is beginning to take shape and is in optimistic mood ahead of the new Premiership season.
The Paisley side begin their campaign on Sunday at home to Motherwell, and are looking to improve on what turned out to be a disappointing previous campaign, when hopes of reaching the top six were not realised.
Robinson, who replaced Jim Goodwin midway through the season, has now had a transfer window and pre-season to put his mark on the squad and is eager to get started on the league again. Though the Premeir Sports Cup games ended with an early exit for the Buddies, the manager says excitement has grown ahead of Sunday.
He said: “I think everyone’s got their aims, haven’t they? You can start the pre-season bits and pieces and the cup games but this is different.
“You can see the intensity build in training, with some people maybe realising they’re not starting so there’s a wee bit of niggle and that’s what you need at times.
“It’s starting to take shape and everyone is quite excited for the start of the season.”
Robinson was blunt in assessing where the team could be improved from last year and, despite a number of key players departing the club, he thinks his new faces can address some issues and help add to the attacking threat.
“We conceded a lot of goals last year, and didn’t score loads,” he said.
“So we have to get a balance of being very hard to beat and being hard to break down and get that defensive record better, which it was towards the end of the season.
“And then obviously I believe I’ve got players and have recruited players that can make us stronger at the top end of the pitch with pace and energy.
“I think first and foremost you have to make sure you’re in the division, for clubs of our size that has to be the first aim, and then within the dressing room we’ve got other ambitions.
“We know we’ve got a good squad and it’s about getting that little bit of luck.
“No one ever mentions that but the amount of things that go your way, you need that. When I finished third with Motherwell we had a good slice of luck along the way, and I think every successful team needs that.”
St Mirren are now preparing to face a Motherwell side that has suffered a humiliating 3-0 aggregate defeat to Sligo Rovers in Europa Conference League qualifying but Robinson does not expect a hangover from his former employers.
“I’ve watched both games,” he said. “I actually thought they played really well in the first half against Sligo. Obviously they haven’t got the result they set out to get but I still think they have a really good squad.
“They also have a very good manager in Graham Alexander and unfortunately in this industry you’re constantly judge in every second of every game. I’ve no doubt Graham will get his team responding and it’ll be a tough afternoon for both sides.”