Buddie Banter: Time for Stephen Robinson to foster some unity at St Mirren ahead of season-defining games

There’s no sure-fire way to get the best out of people.

Some need an arm around the shoulder and a pat on the back, while others need a fire lit under them to get them working to their full potential.

A football manager has a very difficult job in that he has to work out how best to deal with a group of people who all respond to criticism and adversity in different ways.

Jim Goodwin knew the current St Mirren squad and their various personalities like the back of his hand.

They also knew him and exactly how he operated.

Stephen Robinson doesn’t have that experience with the current Buddies crop just yet.

Having replaced Goodwin at the end of February, the Saints have struggled to replicate the form they were in at the start of 2022.

There are a lot of factors at play as to why this has happened.

Goodwin’s departure halfway through the second half of the season came at a seriously unfortunate time for the club.

As chairman John Needham pointed out in the Paisley Express earlier this week, no club would ever choose to change their manager midway through a season if things were ticking along smoothly.

Injuries have also played a part. Key players Jordan Jones, Greg Kiltie, Scott Tanser and Conor McCarthy have all spent time on the treatment table since Robinson’s arrival.

Another factor that has to be considered is the way Robinson has dealt with the players since arriving in Paisley.

We don’t know exactly how he’s been behind closed doors and on the training pitch.

Speaking in yesterday’s Paisley Express, striker Alex Greive revealed Robinson has raised the intensity in training and has them focusing on the finer details.

What we do know is exactly what Robinson has said to the media about the players since taking charge.

And some of those comments look to be walking a fine line for a fairly fragile squad that still has plenty of games left to play this season.

Robinson revealed very early in his tenure that certain players had turned down the club’s offer of a new contract.

He also stated that some players who thought they had a new contract had since been told they’d been deemed surplus to requirements.

This was a pretty risky strategy given how much of the season there is still to play – and how much there is still at stake.

If you’re looking to keep players focused and interested in performing to the best of their ability, this perhaps wasn’t the best way to go about it.

More recently Robinson has questioned the overall quality of the squad, pointing out that they missed out on the top six last season and were facing a relegation battle before Christmas.

As an experienced coach who has worked with the press for several years, you would imagine that Robinson was making these points for a reason – most likely to light a fire under the current squad in the hope that they’d push on and prove him wrong .

However, given the fragile nature of people – particularly after two years of a coronavirus pandemic – that message doesn’t seem to have had the effect he was hoping for.

Instead, there’s been more mistakes in the Buddies backline recently than at any other time this season.

Richard Tait and Greive have both spoken this week about the need to pull together and fight for each other.

Robinson has the power to change the narrative he’s been repeating over the last few weeks and focus more on giving the players – and fans – some much-needed encouragement.

Wednesday’s more positive interview with the club website was more of a step in that direction.

And with Rangers coming up this Sunday, and a potential relegation scrap still a distinct possibility, there’s no time like the present to foster some togetherness and unity in the Saints dressing room.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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