Aberdeen will head for Ibrox motivated by an urge to make amends rather than a desire to spoil a party. Manager Jim Goodwin has branded the midweek defeat to Hearts as unacceptable – as is the club’s current position in the league.
Although it is exceptionally tight between 10th place and fourth, Aberdeen did not want to find themselves third bottom at this stage of the campaign. Neither did Goodwin wish to lead them there so soon into his reign.
Of course, this situation cannot be pinned on him. Indeed, as he noted, he was speaking just two weeks to the day since negotiations with St Mirren were hastily concluded to allow him to take charge of Aberdeen’s clash at Motherwell the following afternoon.
There has not been much time to work with the players in between three games. His side of him have taken just two points out of nine with the most disappointing of these displays being the most recent.
Aberdeen were not at the races in the 2-0 defeat to Hearts on Wednesday and travel to Ibrox, where they drew 2-2 earlier this season under Stephen Glass, in the mood to atone. There is a suspicion they raise their game when facing the Old Firm and Aberdeen are in fact unbeaten against Rangers this season.
Their fans will relish the opportunity to be the ultimate party poopers in Govan as the Ibrox club’s 150th anniversary celebrations begin in earnest. Goodwin stressed that Aberdeen must concentrate on themselves as they make a late bid for a top six place – something he described as the absolute minimum for a club of their size.
It isn’t about beating old rival Rangers and having fun at their expense. It’s more serious than that. Some players need to show Goodwin they are worth keeping.
“I don’t think the guys need any extra motivation to win the game as you are always playing for personal pride,” said Goodwin. “There’s a number of players here playing for their futures as well so there shouldn’t be any need for any additional incentives.
“This isn’t about us trying to ruin Rangers party, this is about us trying to get a bit of pride back in the squad,” he added. “We need to make amends for what happened at Tynecastle on Wednesday and I’m not interested in anything else to be honest.
“I want to get my players back to the level that’s required and expected of them. We cannot allow this campaign to just fizzle out as we have to get a win as soon as possible.”
Goodwin pointed to “glimpses” in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Dundee United but admitted the defeat to Hearts was “disappointing”. There are, he added, some mitigating factors – a ruled-out goal at Tynecastle, another wrongly chalked-off at Motherwell in his first game, as well as injuries and illness – but he knows it’s his responsibility to turn things round quickly .
“This is as much my problem as anybody else’s, albeit I’ve only been in for a couple of weeks, but the honeymoon period isn’t slow coming to an end,” he said.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.