The Northern Irishman was escorted around various parts of McDiarmid Park yesterday to undergo myriad media commitments and was as enthusiastic in his last interview as he was in his first.
Had he not had to dash off to meet his new players at training, the 37-year-old would no doubt have spent the best part of the day outlining his hopes and dreams for the future.
Lomas is Geoff Brown’s final managerial appointment as chairman but his recruitment continues the recent trend of St Johnstone placing their trust in young, determined, if largely unproven managers.
Both Owen Coyle and Derek McInnes were relatively inexperienced when Brown elected to take a chance on them and both thrived in the role before being picked off by clubs down south.
Coyle, in fact, was on the phone to the man he still calls “chairman” minutes after McInnes had departed for Bristol City to promote Lomas’ candidature, with Brown playfully slapping him down.
“My retort to him was, ‘Why would I listen to you? You weren’t successful as a St Johnstone manager. You never got us promotion, you never won us a cup, you never brought us anything. In fact, the way you’re going it will be you who is applying for this job before long! Needless to say there’s a fair bit of banter still goes on between Owen and myself. But he more or less gave me the A to Z of Steve right there.”
Unlike McInnes, for whom St Johnstone was his first managerial role, Lomas at least a variety of coaching jobs decorating his cv, albeit none of them particularly glamorous. He started out coaching the youth team at Norwich City before departing to become player-manager at St Neots Town, a non-league club in the eighth tier of English football.
From there he returned to West Ham United, where he had played for eight years, as reserve coach before departing in the summer. He believes those varied experiences, and a willingness to get his hands dirty, have provided him with a rounded background that should help deliver success to St Johnstone.
“I never sat about waiting for something to happen,” Lomas said. “I have done my licences and courses and got experience at non-league level. I coached the youths at Norwich and the reserves at West Ham.
“St Neots have fantastic facilities and are a great club. I was doing my coaching qualifications and just thought ‘let’s get down into the muck and bullets of non-league and be a manager’. I knew I wouldn’t be relying on money, the challenge was taking a team and moulding it myself through my coaching and man-management.
“I felt I did that and we were unlucky not to win the league. It was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When the West Ham job came up I jumped at the chance to go back to my old club. So I have been working to build up a network of contacts which I will hopefully be able to use for St Johnstone.
“The best learning place is on the job and by no stretch of the imagination do I think I know everything. It will be a learning process because I am a work-in-progress but I’ll get the team where we want to be through hard work.”
Lomas, who has signed a two-and-a-half year deal, had other offers but believes landing in Perth was meant to be. “I am a believer in fate and things happening for a reason. It has worked out this way because St Johnstone is by far and away the most attractive one. I chased the job because it wasn’t going to come to me. I’m ambitious and hard-working and want to prove myself.
“This is a club who want to bring in young managers and give them an opportunity. It’s a good, stable club and the people running it deserve a lot of credit for where St Johnstone are. You have to be ambitious and set your sights high. We should be aiming for the top six. I was like that as a player, you have to be ambitious and try to achieve.”
Lomas, whose first match in charge will be against Aberdeen on Monday night, becomes the fourth manager with Northern Irish connections in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League following Neil Lennon, Kenny Shiels and Danny Lennon, who was capped four times for the Northern Irish B team.
The one-time Manchester City player revealed he once shared a flat with Neil Lennon and expects the Celtic manager to come through this difficult spell.
“Neil was unjustly released by Man City at 17, after playing for the first-team as a 16-year-old. He went to Crewe to rebuild his career and we were living together. Unfortunately he got spondulitis in his back and had to get it wired up.
“I saw him spend eight months in a corset so to spend that length of time fighting something which is a career-threatening injury takes an incredible show of strength. To come back from that to play again, move to Leicester and then on to Celtic says everything about his drive and hunger. I have no doubt that Neil Lennon has the stomach for a fight and he will battle his way through that at Celtic.”