DEREK McINNES has told his Aberdeen players they face a different challenge from Neil Lennon’s Celtic than the Hoops team managed by Brendan Rodgers.
The teams lock horns at Pittodrie on Sunday with the champions coming off the back of a breathtaking 2-1 Europa League Group E victory over Lazio at Parkhead last night.
However, they will be geared up for the Dons test and McInnes admitted his counterpart will be “quite happy to go and ask you a question and hit you right between the eyes”.
The Hoops clinched an eighth successive Premiership title with a 3-0 victory on their last visit to the north east in May when Lennon was in caretaker charge following Rodgers’ departure to Leicester City the previous February.
The Dons boss, speaking to the Press and Journal, said: “There is still that confidence within the team, the same level of technician, the same level of player, but Neil has put his own stamp upon the squad this year.
“Neil was on a hiding to nothing last year. He was obviously grateful for the opportunity to go back in, but there is no doubt it was a real test for him to get the job done.
“Now he is getting the opportunity to take that team on and I think there are similarities with Brendan’s team. The same level of player is there and Celtic are used to playing a certain way.
“But I do think there is now a bit more tempo in Celtic’s possession work. It is the same aggressive work out of possession that Brendan had. They still try to put teams under pressure, and that, for me, is pretty similar.
“But, in possession, I would say Neil Lennon’s Celtic has a bit more intensity about it. There is still the thought process there and Brendan’s team aimed to out-think you and plotted a way up the pitch a lot of the time. But Neil will be quite happy to go and ask you a question and hit you right between the eyes.
“If you say ‘direct’ people automatically think that is smashing the ball forward. But I think this is more about forward passes and asking the questions of the opposition a bit quicker.
“Brendan’s Celtic team could still do that, but they probably mixed the game up a bit more.
“There is no right or wrong way. They won 6-0 last week, so you have to say that whatever Neil is doing with them at the minute, it seems to be working.”