ST MIRREN’S victory over Hearts back in March was pivotal in many ways. It not only ensured it was the Tynecastle club and not them who would go on to suffer the subsequent months of relegation anxiety and stress but also meant the Paisley side would improve on their league position for a fourth successive season.

Seventh then first in the Championship, 11th then ninth in the Premiership. What will be the next number in that sequence? Few outsiders would expect that upwards trajectory to continue in the season ahead but Jim Goodwin sees no reason why it shouldn’t.

The Irishman heads into his second season in charge with his sights set firmly on trying to break into the fabled top six. A repeat of this year’s ninth-place finish would represent a success in the eyes of many but not Goodwin. He believes his players have the potential to do much better.

“I don’t want St Mirren to be a survival club,” said the former Alloa boss. “I stressed that enough last season. I look at the infrastructure in terms of training facilities, the stadium, the fanbase, the squad we’re putting together….we shouldn’t be satisfied to just be finishing second bottom and stay in the league. We have to make progress.

“If we finish ninth again next year then that’s not good enough as far as I’m concerned. There will be some people out there who would snap your hand off for that right now as that means Premiership football for next season.

“But I don’t want us to rest on our laurels and to be happy about finishing down at the bottom end of the table.

“I want us to be genuine contenders for forcing our way into that top half. If we finish seventh or eighth then that’s progress. The club has never finished higher than eighth [for the first time since 1989] so let’s try to be around that mid-table mark – seventh, sixth or even fifth.

“Let’s see if come the split we can be in the mix for challenging for a spot in the top half of the table. It’s where I want to be and so do the players, the staff, the fans and the directors.”

When Goodwin returned to pre-season training last week he became the first St Mirren manager since Danny Lennon back in 2013 to stick the cones out for two summers in a row. None of Lennon’s successors hung around long enough for that honour.

Now, though, there is some much-needed stability at the club both in the dug-out and behind the scenes. And Goodwin believes it is time that St Mirren started looking to emulate the achievements of Motherwell, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone by aiming for a top-half finish.

He added: “Of course it can be done. And those clubs are the perfect example. They are the ones I look at all the time.

“As a club we have to put that message out there that we are extremely ambitious and are determined to do everything we can to try to emulate the likes of Kilmarnock, Motherwell and St Johnstone in recent seasons. Why not? If we don’t aim for that then what’s the point?

“When I took the job on 12 months ago I wanted to make sure the board of directors had similar ambitions to my own.

“As a manager you would always like a bit more in the budget to bring in more quality but I’m realistic about the situation. The higher up the table we can finish then everything else comes with it.

“It becomes easier to get sponsorship on the commercial side of things, the prize money goes up the higher up you get, and you might go on longer cup runs too with a better squad.

“The majority of that money then goes back into the playing budget which again allows me to put a better product out on the park. And that in turn leads to better season ticket sales and getting more fans in through the gate. It all has a knock-on effect.”