St Johnstone: Manager Tommy Wright so proud to finish above Hearts

Tommy Wright and Danny Swanson
Tommy Wright is already making plans to replace goal hero Danny Swanson

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright was full of praise for his "magnificent" players after they secured European football at the expense of Hearts.

The Saints' win over Partick Thistle ensured Hearts cannot catch them in the race for fourth and a European berth.

"At the start of the season, just getting into the top six would have been great," Wright said.

"But to finish above a club the size of Hearts, having been behind them and now ahead, is all credit to the players."

'My team has been brilliant'

The 1-0 home triumph over Partick, coupled with Hearts' 2-1 defeat at Rangers earlier on Saturday, means Saints are nine points clear of the fifth-placed Tynecastle outfit with two games to play.

The Perth men have now finished fourth in the Premiership for three successive seasons, a fact Wright takes great pride in.

"That's four seasons I've been in charge and I keep thinking at the end of each season, 'Can they get better, can we maintain it?' And they do," Wright told BBC Scotland.

Danny Swanson celebrates
Danny Swanson won and scored the penalty that earned Saints three points against Partick Thistle

"They respond and they go again. They have been magnificent again this season and deserve to get into Europe. They are the fourth best team in the country.

"My team has been brilliant all season."

Having also guided St Johnstone to Scottish Cup glory in season 2013-14, Wright has overseen a hugely impressive spell for the McDiarmid Park men.

And he says recruitment is the key to the club's ongoing success, with the biggest task this summer likely to be finding a replacement for Saturday's goal hero Danny Swanson, who will join Hibernian this summer.

"There's quite a few teams below us with bigger budgets as well but we recruit well and don't have to bring many in each season," Wright added. "We will have to replace Danny (Swanson), so we're looking at bringing in three players maximum. We have a good steady squad and we have good players."

With home games left against Hearts and Rangers this season, Wright is targeting the victories that would take them beyond 60 Premiership points for the campaign.

Partick boss Alan Archibald
Partick Thistle boss Alan Archibald was unimpressed with his side's performance in Perth

"Let's see if we can win two games and break the 60-point mark," said the Northern Irishman, whose side are on 55 points. "The main target has been achieved and we've done it comfortably in the end."

The Saints boss felt his side fully merited the win over Partick and his Thistle counterpart Alan Archibald agreed.

"St Johnstone deserved it over the piece," he told BBC Scotland. "Our performance level dropped massively, individually and collectively, compared to last week when we were up on every second ball and the passing was crisp and good.

"We never ticked one of the boxes today - we were out-battled and out-played."

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