It’s not often we’re tipping up the bottom club in any division to produce a title challenge the next season. But then again, not many teams at the foot of the table go on a run quite like the one St Mirren are enjoying right now.
The Buddies are the Ladbrokes Championship’s form side at present, having picked up a cool 10 points from their past four league games, including a 6-2 demolition of Ayr United last time out.
That marked the Honest Men’s joint-heaviest defeat since April 2010, and it’s just one of a number of impressive stats which highlight the Paisley club’s resurgence.
And looking back just a little further, Jack Ross’ men have actually chalked up 17 points in their last eight league games – having managed just 13 in the previous 22 outings.
So, a point behind Ayr – who occupy the relegation play-off spot – and also within four points of catching Raith Rovers and Dumbarton, there seems little doubt the Buddies will avoid the drop this term.
Especially so as they have a game in hand on all three of those sides, and host two of those sides at the Paisley 2021 Stadium before the campaign ends.
So, we’re confident they’ll stay up.
But can St Mirren really mount a title challenge in 2017-18?
They now have a tactical approach which is paying dividends week in, week out.
The 4-2-3-1 system has enabled the likes of Lewis Morgan and Stephen Mallen to use their pace out wide, while the pairing of Stephen McGinn and Kyle Magennis in holding midfield roles is offering protection to an increasingly solid defensive unit.
However, Ross can and will mix it up against weaker opposition, switching to an attacking 4-4-2 system against Ayr United, allowing his front men to run riot against their shaky visitors, and give their goal difference a huge boost in the process.
But it’s not just tactical nous which suggests the Paisley club are on the up.
The amount of talented youngsters in Ross’ ranks means that this squad only look like improving as they get more game-time under their belt. The likes of Mallen, Magennis and Jack Baird are all heading into this summer as stronger players than they began the campaign – in every sense.
But it’s not just the young guns breaking through who look good. The manager’s January recruits also point to the Buddies having stepped things up enormously following their miserable first half of the campaign.
Experienced defenders like Stelios Demetriou and Adam Eckersley have helped bolster a previously leaky backline, with four clean sheets in the last seven league games.
And at the other end, Dundee loanee Rory Loy has been a revelation since returning, registering four goals and three assists in his first 11 games.
Add to that the fact they won’t have Neil Lennon’s dominant Hibernian to contend with next season, and you have a strong case for the Buddies to win the Championship title.
Next up for St Mirren is the visit of Dumbarton on Saturday, with 3/4 on offer for the hosts to enjoy victory.
Meanwhile, the more ambitious amongst you can get odds of 225/1 for the home side to record a second successive 6-2 victory!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing