This past week saw Aberdeen lose their first domestic game of the season when a well-organised Hibs side knocked the Dons out the League Cup after an impressive 2-0 win at Easter Road.
Oh well, that’s it then, the Dons wheels have fallen off! Give me peace!
The manner of the defeat was a sore one coupled with worrying injuries to both Wilo Flood and Graeme Shinnie who both miss the trip to Inverness but for those ready to jump on the “Aberdeen will fade away” bandwagon, I wouldn’t step on just yet!
By his own admission Derek McInnes admitted his side are not going to win every game, they have to earn the right to win games but the quality which so far this season has helped the Dons reach the giddy heights of the SPFL was lacking on Wednesday night.
No doubt in training this week that very same quality will have been worked on.
I have read with interest since Wednesday those doubting Aberdeen’s fluidity without Shinnie but there is a simple solution, put Andrew Considine to left-back, allow Jonny Hayes who returns from suspension the freedom of the left-side and bobs your uncle the balance is restored.
For the first time since I can remember the Pittodrie squad is a good one, a balanced one yet nobody is getting carried away. It appears from where I am sitting and reading every game for Aberdeen will be a test of their reserve and mental toughness – talk about stating the bleeding obvious.
For any team that sits pretty above Celtic the same will be said. It’s up to the Aberdeen management staff and players to respond to Wednesday’s defeat in the proper manner.
I have no doubt the players welcome this current challenge, surely that’s what playing football is all about right – being able to meet adversity face on, test yourself against the best and see where it takes you.
Aberdeen have already shown this season they are capable of bouncing back after a disappointing defeat. You just have to look at the Europa League campaign to see that. Saturday’s game against Inverness is another big test as is St.Johnstone the following week as will Ross County be two weeks on Friday. It won’t be just the physical fatigue that the players have to overcome but the psychological one as well. This is where the management, coaching staff, sports scientists alike have to seriously earn their money.
For me the test is not on the pitch, it’s off the pitch. We all know players have ability, they have the fitness to get them through 90 minutes of football but do they have the inner strength?
This current Aberdeen squad are in a position where I doubt many have been before. For so many years it’s been about finishing in the top six, having a decent cup run or more recently securing European qualification. Now that they face uncharted territories it’s how the players deal with that and nothing else that could prove to be the difference.
So how far can they go?
Time no doubt will tell but one defeat does not put a spanner in the works or upset the apple-cart. It’s a blip and nothing else. I know it’s an old cliché so forgive me but it IS all about the next game. Nobody at Pittodrie from what I can see and read is laying down or chucking in any towels, they never will.
Celtic was a huge test, Aberdeen came through it, Hearts were a big test, Aberdeen came through it, and Inverness is another big test so let’s wait and see what happens come 4:45pm on Saturday afternoon.
But here’s another thought, when was the last time Celtic faced such a task?
In the recent past Celtic have, let’s be honest here, cruised to the title yet what if the shoe was on the other foot. For the majority of the lads at Parkhead success comes with the norm but what if the fear of failure started chipping away psychologically?
What Ronny Deila and his men face now is very much out of the ordinary domestically so a different kind of pressure has to be dealt with.
So with that all said and done here is my advice to the doubters of Aberdeen’s credentials after one defeat – easy tiger!