LEARNING on the job can be a fraught experience for any young football manager. Jim Goodwin concedes he didn’t always get things right during his time in charge of Alloa Athletic in League One and then the Championship.

Unlike then, however, there are fewer places to hide in his first season in the top flight as St Mirren manager.

The second half of last week’s frenetic Scottish Cup tie against Motherwell, in particular, served as the steepest of learning curves.

From a seemingly unassailable 4-1 lead at half-time, Goodwin watched in horror as his opposite number, Stephen Robinson, made numerous tactical switches to haul his team back into the contest at 4-4.

St Mirren did at least go on to prevail in the subsequent penalty shoot-out but, ahead of a return to the same venue tonight on league duty, Goodwin (right) admits he has a lot to learn.

“It’s my first season in the Premiership and I’m testing my wits against some really top managers,” he said. “Robinson did things tactically in that game that I hadn’t previously come up against. It was a great learning curve for me.”

Ross County’s victory over Aberdeen on Saturday lifted them seven points clear of St Mirren, albeit having played two games more. That would seem to make it a three-way scrap to avoid relegation but Goodwin believes nobody in the bottom six is safe yet.

“I think there are lots of teams in it,” he added. “I think Ross County are definitely still in the relegation mix, as are we, Hearts, and Hamilton. And I don’t think St Johnstone or Kilmarnock are out of it either.”

Graeme Macpherson