IF St Johnstone overcome St Mirren in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden on Sunday and then defeat either Dundee United or Hibernian in the final on May 22 they will have lifted twice as many major honours in the space or three months as they did in the previous 136 years.

Before their Betfred Cup triumph back in February the only significant success the Perth club had enjoyed was their Scottish Cup win in 2014.

So the calls for Callum Davidson – who was assistant to Tommy Wright seven years ago when they defeated United 2-0 at Celtic Park - to be crowned Manager of the Year are entirely justifiable.

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Davidson, who is in his first managerial role after spells on the coaching staff at Stoke City, Dunfermline Athletic and Millwall, will be a worthy recipient of either the Scottish Football Writers’ Association or the PFA Scotland awards this month.

The former Scotland midfielder has also guided the McDiarmid Park outfit to a top six finish in the Premiership. And they said it would be impossible to replace Wright when he stood down! It has been quite a success story.

However, even if, and it remains a big if given the quality of the teams still in the competition, St Johnstone do make it an historic cup double this term, Steven Gerrard will deserve to be honoured more than Davidson for his accomplishments at Rangers.

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To lead the Ibrox club to their first Scottish title in a decade, prevent Celtic from making football history and completing 10-In-A-Row, possibly go undefeated in the process and reach the last 16 of the Europa League for the second season running has been remarkable. 

Davidson’s backers will point to the money that Gerrard has had to spend and the resources he has had at his disposal and say: ‘Well, no wonder he has won the league!’

He was, despite the devastating financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown, able to lavish £4.5m on Kemar Roofe and £3m on Cedric Itten and Ianis Hagi this summer. Last year he splashed out £7m on Ryan Kent.

It is true that Gerrard has riches which Davidson can only dream of. His side should certainly have no excuses for slumping to that quarter-final penalty shoot-out defeat eight days ago. Still, that shouldn’t be allowed to detract from what he has done.

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When the former Liverpool midfielder was appointed three years ago tomorrow he was charged with ending the unprecedented domestic dominance of a club with a far better squad and significantly larger budget. Even last summer Neil Lennon outspent him by forking out over £12m on Albian Ajeti, Vasilis Barkas and David Turnbull. 

It has taken Gerrard some time, there have been myriad setbacks, disappointments and humiliations along the way, at times he has come under intense pressure. But he has achieved his objective.

What is more, he has done so playing stylish football. Rangers’ emphatic 4-1 win over Celtic at Ibrox yesterday was typical of many of their performances this term. They were solid at the back, dominant in midfield and irresistible up front.

His side haven’t just excelled domestically either. In Europe they have been nothing short of a revelation. They topped a group that comprised Benfica, Standard Liege and Lech Poznan and then obliterated Royal Antwerp. They did so by going on the offensive, not by putting all 10 outfield players behind the ball and trying to score on the counter. The ex-England captain has helped to restore pride in Scottish football with the displays of his charges on the continent.

He has also brought an end to one of the worst periods in Rangers history and deserves to have his efforts recognised.

AND ANOTHER THING

Billy Gilmour’s involvement in Chelsea’s comfortable 2-0 win over Fulham at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening led to renewed calls for the 19-year-old midfielder to be promoted to the Scotland squad for the Euro 2020 finals.

Gilmour only started in the Premier League match because Jorginho and N’Golo Kante were being rested ahead of the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid in London on Wednesday night.

Still, he impressed Thomas Tuchel.  Asked to assess the youngster’s contribution to the win, his manager said: “Very, very good. He’s a confident guy, he’s well aware of his qualities.”

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Steve Clarke, who took in the Old Firm game at Ibrox yesterday, is well covered in central midfield even with Ryan Jack ruled out of the finals. He can field Stuart Armstrong, John Fleck, Callum McGregor, John McGinn, Kenny McLean or Scott McTominay there.

Should he take Gilmour? Would the teenager feature against the Czech Republic, England or Croatia? Could he make his international debut in the finals? Clarke will be giving it his full consideration. 

The former Rangers kid perhaps needs more game time between now and the end of the season to receive a call-up. And even then it might not happen.

But with UEFA last week giving the go-ahead for coaches to take 26 players to the finals it certainly increases Gilmour’s chances. There would be long-term benefits of involving an enormously gifted player who looks set to star for his country for years to come.

He was on the verge of being promoted from the under-21 set-up last year before he suffered a serious knee injury. His presence would add an interesting dynamic to the squad. And who would rule out him forcing his way into contention for a game?

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