I HAVE always categorised St Johnstone as a team with a really good work ethic, a group of players who want to play for each other rather than being built around individuals.
But for the first time in a while they have unearthed that extra bit of star quality in the form of Stevie May. I have watched Stevie a lot this year and a fair bit over the last couple of years, and I have been impressed by his progression. He has bulked up by going to the gym and doing boxing training, and worked on his game awareness during his loan spells at Alloa and then Hamilton.
I saw him against Partick Thistle in a rearranged midweek game recently and I thought he was excellent. Maybe I am doing them a disservice, but while St Johnstone work hard, I wouldn't say they are always a great creative team, so Stevie has to do a lot of individual work. That said, I love his work ethic and I really think he has a bit of everything.
Keeping him made it a great transfer window for St Johnstone, because his departure would have left such a hard void to fill. I know they signed Chris Iwelumo, but he is a different type of player, and they would probably slipped down a couple of places, not to mention jeopardising their cup chances.
But he is a certainty to move on in the summer. Clubs like QPR and Peterborough were sniffing around in January and I definitely think he is worth a go at Championship level in England. I don't know that he is going to be a Premiership player, but who is not to say he wouldn't be given the way he is progressing tup here? The next four or five months should allow the player to make sure he is moving to England at the right time and ensure St Johnstone get what they deserve from him.
Perhaps the most impressive thing of all about Stevie is his attitude. You still get too many players in Scotland who think their ability and technique should get them to top clubs, but this is a guy who epitomises what being a professional footballer is actually all about: hard graft.
At times St Johnstone might have been prepared to let him go but he goes out on loan, does everything he can to make himself bigger and stronger, and displays an absolute determination to be a football player. Sometimes we can jump the gun, have a big clamour to get the next one in, but we have to be looking at boys like Stevie for the Scotland international team and I think he will be introduced to the squad soon. While he also has an all-round game, he is also the type who will score all sorts of goals, with the natural instinct to get in there and get tap-ins.
I love the way St Johnstone operate. They are successful because they are run properly. They have always been shrewd - even in my day, they made a few hundred grand from me in six months. Geoff Brown started it, and the same kind of set-up now operates under his son, Steve. You could say they deserve a bigger support, but credit to the 3500 to 4000 who go there regularly. The thing that must disappoint them most is that they got a couple of European games this season and nearly filled McDiarmid Park, but those extra supporters tend to just show up for certain games and I don't know if that will ever change.
Lee Croft is another one who gives them something extra. He was on their books before, but they let him go, and while he carries a bit of weight, he carries it well because he is deceptively quick and strong. You don't play for clubs like Norwich if you are not a good player.
There is no double talk from manager Tommy Wright; what you see is what you get. You feel relaxed with him straight away because there are no lies, no managerial jargon; that is why players love him and that is why he seems to be getting that success. St Johnstone play Raith Rovers in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup and while my former teams Aberdeen and Rangers are both still in there, I would love to see them go all the way.
They should really have gone through their Europa League tie against FC Minsk, after doing so brilliantly against Rosenborg. They were well beaten in the League Cup semi-final by Aberdeen, but one thing that has happened consistently this season is that whenever St Johnstone have had big defeats - to Dundee United or Aberdeen, for example - their reaction has been immense.
Another home defeat for Celtic today, to break their unbeaten league record, would put the cat among the Parkhead pigeons, but I can't see St Johnstone getting a result. I think it is a bad time to play Celtic, after last week's cup exit against Aberdeen. St Johnstone have done plenty in the league without having to put pressure on themselves to beat Celtic and I think they will have one eye now on the cup.