Updated: Dec 31, 2021
St. Johnstone currently has 6 players on loan at the club, with Crawford, Dendoncker, Devine, Middleton, MacPherson, and Muller all arriving in the summer. Which is 24% of the current squad.
[St. Johnstone's 6 loan players]
It would be reasonable to state that none of these players has really enjoyed a successful first half of the campaign. Muller, MacPherson, Dendoncker, and Devine have all struggled for game time, the quartet has amassed just 38 appearances between them. Only MacPherson had played more than 5 games of professional football before joining the club in the summer and this lack of experience has shone through, with the gaffer often relying on the tried and tested - especially in a relegation dog fight.
[MacPherson battles with McGowan]
Whereas for Middleton and Crawford it has been a different story. The pair have endured mixed spells, with some decent performances so far but sadly neither have been prolific - with just the 4 goal contributions between them this campaign. It sadly is not clicking for them at present.
All 6 of the above players are talented footballers, I think that goes without saying, but it just does not seem to be working out on the park.
It is simply unsustainable to have such a large chunk of your squad on loan and in a relegation scrap, you need players who will be committed and willing to leave nothing out on the pitch. Whilst I would never accuse any of the players of not trying, it is certainly easier to subconsciously switch off when you know that you are leaving the club at the end of the season.
Saints need to free up the wage bill as much as possible and bring in quality replacements, this, for me, starts with the current crop of loan players. Whilst I would not send them all back, I would certainly be surprised if all 6 are in Perth come January 31st.
According to reports Ali Crawford looks set to join on a permanent deal from Bolton in January, whereas Hayden Muller is likely to head back down south to Millwall with manager Gary Rowett said to have had a meeting with Callum over his current progress.
[Crawford celebrates with Middleton and MacPherson]
Devine has shown flashes of quality and has a lot of raw talent, however, Davidson does not seem to trust him and the youngster has barely featured since September. Dendoncker has only really broken into the side lately, with Brown often favoured on the right of defence.
Middleton has been a mixed bag so far, whilst he has looked dangerous on occasion he is yet to find his rhythm this season, which may be down to his inconsistent game time and often being played out of position.
[It has been a frustrating season for Middleton]
MacPherson has had a tough time with injuries since arriving on deadline day, with 2 lengthy lay-offs seeing his playing time vastly reduced. He had a promising start to his St. Johnstone career, showing promise in his early games, however, once the sides form plummeted his performances suffered before he then picked up a groin injury that required surgery.
I would expect at least 2 of the 6 loan players currently at McDiarmid Park will be heading back to their parent clubs come January. This highlights the failings of the summer window and now the club is left with a huge task to turn this around and freshen up the squad.
Overall, in the January transfer window, St. Johnstone absolutely must reduce the loan count. Fresh faces must come in and Davidson has to be backed. Loan players are a handy addition to your squad, but they cannot be such a large part of it, otherwise, you are setting yourself up to fail.