It’s make or break weekend in the packed mid-table of the Premiership and Jim Goodwin knows exactly what is required if his Reds are to survive the split.
Ross County have to be sunk – and that still leaves Aberdeen requiring a snooker to pocket a top-six spot.
Pot luck? Perhaps. But victory over the Staggies doubled with Hibs failing to beat Hearts would be enough for the Dons and would leave Goodwin looking positively up the table towards the European spots he insists are still in sight.
The Dons boss has only been in charge for six league games but just one win in that time has already introduced him to the pressure at Pittodrie.
He’s honest enough to admit his side has underperformed.
Not just since he took over, but the entire season which is why the Dons are languishing in ninth, two points off sixth with a game to go.
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The Irishman won’t give up on top six though – because he’s got even loftier ambitions come next month should the balls drop in Aberdeen’s favor this week.
Goodwin said: “It’s massive as, forget about top six, in my opinion Aberdeen should be a top three or four team.
“In fairness it had been consistently in Derek McInnes’ time at the club as they were always up there going for Europe. That’s what we need to get back to as nobody needs told that the team have underperformed.
“The players are an honest group who accept that and the level of expectation that’s on a club like this is far greater than what’s been shown so far.
“But we do still have an opportunity to make amends and put things right even if it’s out with our control.
“It’s as simple as that and if we get top six I’m confident we will get into Europe.”
Goodwin might not have the points he’s craved so far but he is confident his methods are beginning to show results in terms of improving the young players at his disposal.
Lewis Ferguson made his first full international start against Austria last week while Connor Barron and Calvin Ramsey were in Under-21 action. Those call-ups will help Goodwin in his bid to attract new recruits to Pittodrie in the summer – after which he will be more fairly judged.
The former St Mirren boss has been linked with Buddies stars Connor Ronan, Charles Dunne and Jak Alnwick.
And while he was tight lipped on targets, he revealed the carrot of international football is one he will continue to use to lure players.
Goodwin said: “I spoke about that during the recruitment process when I was at St Mirren. Jamie McGrath was a great example that we brought from the League of Ireland and we managed to get him involved with the senior Irish team. Connor Ronan, I was delighted for him.
“That was a big selling factor when bringing Connor to St Mirren.
“I sold him the Jamie McGrath story if you like it. Albeit, I was disappointed not to see him come off the bench in either game and not be on the bench in either game. I thought he would be guaranteed some minutes.
“That was probably a frustration for Connor but I’m sure he and his family are very proud of him.
“I told him if he did come to St Mirren that we would get him in the Irish set up – I didn’t guarantee him a cap.
“We are all looking to add strength and quality to the squad as we have a number of players out of contract.
“We are no different to any other team out there but it is vital you come out of every transfer window stronger than you went in. Once the summer window closes I believe we will be in far greater shape than we are in right now.”
One player who faces a huge fight for a future in the north east is Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
The summer signing from Livingston hasn’t featured at all for Goodwin who said just a fortnight ago the striker wasn’t fit enough to play the style of football he wants.
But JET could yet turn after a heart-to-heart with the boss.
Goodwin said: “The big man has been working really well and I must give him huge credit for that.
“He’s took on board what we’ve asked him to do after a frank and honest conversation about where he needs to get to.
“He realizes the way we train and the demands I make of players on a match day he needs to have certain fitness.
“He’s working hard but whether he’s involved in the weeks and months ahead you have to wait and see.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.