Mannus praises Wright

  • Last Updated: May 17 2014, 15:16 BST

Tommy Wright has led many of the St Johnstone squad to their first major final but for goalkeeper Alan Mannus, his influence has been even more profound.

Tommy Wright: Has guided St Johnstone to the final
Tommy Wright: Has guided St Johnstone to the final

Mannus has worked with Wright at every club he has played for along with the Northern Ireland squad, and feels he would not even be in Scotland enjoying such a successful career were it not for his advice and training.

Having seen Wright shape his life and career, Mannus knew he would do a good job as Saints manager when he stepped up last summer, and their William Hill Scottish Cup final meeting with Dundee United on Saturday is the culmination of an incredible debut campaign.

Mannus said: "He was my goalkeeper coach when I was about 19 at Linfield. He was with me for a couple of years and then Tommy moved on elsewhere.

"Eventually I ended up moving to Shamrock Rovers where Tommy was goalkeeper coach, which was one of the main reasons I wanted to go there, to work with Tommy again.

"Tommy moved on from there after a couple of months and I ended up coming over here. And within two or three months after that, Tommy came over as assistant to Steve Lomas. So we can't seem to get away from each other.

"He has been really influential for me. I probably wouldn't be here now if it wasn't for him."

While Mannus knew Wright better than most, some were surprised to see the former Newcastle and Northern Ireland goalkeeper given the chance to succeed Lomas, who left for a brief spell at Millwall.

"At the start some people were questioning whether an ex-goalkeeper could be a manager," Mannus said.

"He has really answered those questions and shown that he can do it. He has done a good job - we have played some really good football, finished in the top six, got to a semi-final, done well in Europe, and now got to another final.

"So it's been a brilliant season and it's down to the manager more than anyone."

Mannus won four Irish Cups with Linfield as well as a number of other major trophies during his time north and south of the border in Ireland.

But he gave up the chance to play regularly in cup finals and European competition in order to test himself in Scotland, and the 31-year-old feels his gamble paid off long ago.

"I hadn't looked as far as cup finals when I first came over," the international goalkeeper said. "I just thought 'will I get a chance to play in the first place?'

"It's not come down to just this game. The last two-and-half years have made it all worth it.

"The first few months were hard because I was away from family and friends. It's what most footballers do at some point in their careers. That was tough enough and I wasn't playing. But once I got in and managed to stay in, it's all been good since then and all been worth it.

"Winning the cup would be massive for me. I was lucky to have played in Irish Cup finals back home and win them with Linfield, and to play in a cup final with Shamrock Rovers as well. I will always remember that and hopefully I will play in the final on Saturday and remember that one.

"For me to be here and be playing is massive for me. To be playing every week in the league games is massive for me as well so to be involved in a cup final is brilliant."

St Johnstone make their first Scottish Cup final appearance on Saturday as they aim to win the first major trophy in their 130-year history.

But their goalkeeper's experience of finals has taught him to treat Saturday's Celtic Park clash just like he would any game, an approach that has served the Perth side well.

Mannus said: "The reason we've got there is because we've treated other games like every other game. It's important that we do what we have been doing for most of the season.

"We've had some really good performances and if we can do that we have a good chance of winning the game.

"Anyone can win a cup final, anything can happen. It's whoever has the nerve on the day and whoever plays the way they can play. If we do that I think we have a good chance of winning."