Van Veen relishes playing the role of prize irritant against the Pittodrie side. He has scored four times in Motherwell’s three victories over Aberdeen so far this season. The latest win, Saturday’s 2-1 Scottish Cup fifth round comeback triumph, proved the tipping point for watching Pittodrie chairman Dave Cormack, who has since informed Glass and assistants Henry Apaloo and Allan Russell that their 11-month tenure is over.
Van Veen might not shed a tear. He believes Aberdeen defenders were instructed to hurt him to provoke a reaction. While they got one, it wasn’t one they had intended to draw from the 30-year-old, who hit a fine equalizer with the aid of a deflection ten minutes before half-time.
Van Veen accused Scott Brown of trying to get him sent off at Pittodrie in November. The Dutchman scored a match-winning double that afternoon. On Saturday he proved equally unplayable. Knowing all about his threat from him, it would have been negligent had Aberdeen failed to pay him some special attention.
However, Van Veen is adamant this went too far. He claims Aberdeen defenders, specifically centre-halves Declan Gallagher and David Bates, started punching him in the ribs from shortly after kick-off.
The striker made a beeline for Gallagher after scoring. It was a memorable theatre. He picked up an inevitable yellow – his 12th of the campaign – for his troubles from him but managed to avoid a red.
“That’s what you deserve when you play that way: I can play dirty too,” he said later. “I do not know if you remember the clip with Ruud van Nistelrooy back in the day, when the Arsenal players were in his face after he missed a penalty. That’s what I did. I’ll take a yellow card for that all day long.”
Van Veen believes Aberdeen lost sight of their own objectives by concentrating too much on pretend hard man antics.
“Like I say, they started early, the same way they did with Scott Brown in Aberdeen,” he said. “They were instructed to take me out. I’m quite fiery myself – maybe I need to be a bit more mature and not fly in but when I play on the edge, I’m at my best.“The best way to answer them is scoring goals. My tally should be higher. I’m annoyed about that but it was an important goal against Aberdeen.
“I think they had instructions to take me out of the game. After 10-15 seconds they started punching me in the ribs. I said: ‘I will get you back – I’ll score.’”
Van Veen refused to shake hands with his opposite men afterwards. “Not when they disrespect me like that,” he said. “It’s a game but they didn’t come to shake my hand so I’m not going to step forward to shake theirs. I’m sorry to say that because I’m not arrogant, I’m humble. But they’re arrogant. They got what they deserved.”
It is sure to be interesting when the teams meet again. Happily, there isn’t long to wait. A re-match is scheduled for Fir Park as soon as this weekend.
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