St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin admits there were times he thought the season would not be completed.
Goodwin also feared for his job during a spell when Covid-19 got hold of the club.
The Saints emerged to reach two cup semi-finals and could secure their highest league finish since 1989 as they push for seventh spot during Sunday’s final Scottish Premiership clash with Dundee United.
“It’s hard to believe that we have finally got here,” Goodwin said. “There were certain stages in the season when we thought it was never going to end. The fact we have one game to go is quite incredible.
“It’s been extremely challenging at times but very enjoyable as well in certain situations.
“Everyone connected to the club can be very proud of how we have managed to get through this season.
“There have been off-field matters that you hope you would never have to deal with again but you find out a lot about yourself I suppose and how you deal with adversity. I have certainly learned a lot this season and hopefully that will stand me in good stead.”
Goodwin believes the adversity brought the whole club closer together.
“At the beginning of the season we started quite well and then from about the fourth or fifth game onwards, you just felt that Covid really got a hold of us,” he said.
“Every single test we did, it seemed as if we were getting one or two positive cases back and were having to put players in isolation. And the guidelines were changing constantly. Everyone was learning at that time.
“September/October, we lost five or six games on the bounce and you do fear the worst at that moment.
“Albeit we had a number of off-field issues to deal with – going into games with no goalkeeper available, going into big games with 12-13 players in the squad, having to put two keepers on the bench to make up numbers and make it look less embarrassing.
“There was a little period in October when I must admit I did start to concern myself with the results and the way things were going because ultimately, regardless of what goes on off the field, you are judged by what happens on it.
“The performances weren’t good enough, the results weren’t good enough, and you do start to think it’s not meant to be.
“Fortunately we were able to close down the club for a couple of weeks, everybody went into isolation, we managed to rid the place of Covid, and we went on an 11-game unbeaten run.
“In October you are worried about your job and in January/February you are talking about signing a new contract. It’s a funny game at times.
“It has been extremely challenging but it has made the club stronger and brought us all together even more.”
The players switched from their Ralston training ground to the stadium because social-distancing was too difficult.
“I think being here daily has been great because it has brought the whole club together,” Goodwin said.
“We are starting to have daily conversations with receptionists, cleaners, people in the commercial department, and there was a real sense of togetherness.
“It’s something I want to continue next season. We hope to get back to the training ground at Ralston once this is all over but I’m going to make a point of making sure that, at least one day a week, the squad is at the stadium for training because I don’t want to lose that sense of togetherness and I don’t want the relationships we have built up to deteriorate.”