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FK Ventspils | The Manager pre match

July 12, 2016 6:15 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

The Manager's Pre-Match Media Conference |

You looked over last week and how do you ensure that there is no hangover going into this one?

“It is a separate game. From every game you need to learn from, good and bad. It was a disappointing night for us, the only consolation was that we managed to get through. Clubs can gain a lot of praise for glorious failure and not getting through, however we have managed to get through. We know that we put the tie at risk. The first leg was strong enough to get us through it, which isn’t always the case. I always think it takes two strong performances in Europe to get through so I think we’ve been lucky to make it, but I think we deserved to over both legs given the chances created. There is no hiding from last week’s performance, a repeat of that will not help us at all. We need to make sure we use it as a reference, that’s something we have spoken about, but it is also important that we don’t dwell on it too much and concentrate on getting back to the level we are capable of. There can be loads of reasons for it, whether the players collectively thought the game was done after the second half performance here, but they quickly realised it wasn’t. We have to learn from that and approach is everything. In the last 20 minutes the players realised the seriousness of the situation, we then had to dig it out and battle playing with 10 men effectively.”

What challenges await this week?

“I thought Fola Esch were a good side watching them. It was difficult to identify their level. Ventspils are again a more than capable team and I’ve been very impressed in the games I’ve watched. They comfortably got through the first round although they had a few scares against the Faroese in the second legs. They score goals, are currently sitting third in their league, they have a number of Latvian internationals and have goal threats at the other end of the pitch, Karlsons has got 10 goals in the last 12 games. They normally play 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1. They have a way of playing with good experience in the team. They like to get crosses in early and the big lad thrives off service. They are certainly a capable side so we need to look at them as well as looking at ourselves”.

Do you feel your team are more streetwise this year since they are used to playing so early going into these ties?

“The challenge is to get us game ready. We have to fight and find the way to do that. The players need to fight with their own game to be ready mentally and physically. We need to make sure we are ready, if we can get to the levels we are capable of quickly, we give ourselves a chance to progress. Being back early is always a challenge. In a normal pre-season you would play 5,6 or 7 games, we are playing real football as we seen in the last round, 4 or 5 games in. We’ve had 2 bounce games and then the one against Brechin and you’re hoping that will be you ready. Our preparation has been more or less every step of the way the same as it was last season and we were game ready going into the Rijeka match and hopefully we can be something similar for this one”.

Is Niall McGinn ready and how will you manage the situation?

“It is going to be a continual process. Niall has had no real rest time over the last 3 years. The desire to play for his country is admirable, he reports every time, even if he doesn’t play he travels. He is someone who is so important for me and Aberdeen. I took the decision after a discussion with Niall and based on the first leg we thought we could get 9-10 days into him. He arrived back in Aberdeen on Sunday and is itching to go again. I think it’s clear, even in the game last week, someone with his calmness and quality in possession of the ball would have been a benefit to us. It was a gamble, it just paid off and no more. I’m hoping having done that we get the benefit of Niall over the next while and hopefully get breaks into him at some stage. The difficulty is when the international breaks come, Niall is away so I need to try and work closely with him to get Niall at his peak for us as often as we can. A lot of Niall’s game is about speed and sharpness and that intensity so when you had a jaded tired player, mentally and physically it is hard to produce that form week in week out, but there is no doubt when he does he is so important for us. He was the best player in the home game last time and hopefully we can get a similar performance from his on Thursday.”

Ventspils are 13 games into their league season, what disadvantage does that put you at going into the game since they should be up and running in terms of the competitive side of things?

“I think it’s an advantage, there is no getting away from that, but it’s something that is out of our control. We are trying to get where we would normally be after 10 or 12 games. Everything is accelerated, there are problems and difficulties to get where want to be. We know the situation going into Europe, we want to be in Europe and want to do well so we need to find a way to overcome any problems. Ventspils definitely have an advantage in that sense, but I would like to think it will not come down to that when deciding who goes through, there will be far more factors involved.”

From what you’ve seen of them do you think they represent a step up in quality and class from Fola Esch?

“Difficult to tell, I thought Fola Esch were a good team. Everybody will talk about them being part-time, but they train 5 times a week. Even though they train at night some of them are professional. I know what they get paid and they are a professional outfit in everything they do. I thought they were a good side and they showed they were an even better side when we weren’t at our own game. I’d say that Ventspils have quality throughout their team, they have some players of real quality and international players, they are a capable side. It’s difficult to gage, but it certainly won’t be any easier”.

Is there still a chance of a signing before Thursday night?

“We will go as we are and look forward to it. Having Miles Storey available is very important to us and it will give us more attacking options. Having Niall back also is good news. The squad will be ready to take on the Latvians and hopefully get the right result”.

What have you made of Miles so far and is he ready?

“No he’s not. He played an hour against East Fife on Sunday which was his first football, and again it is difficult to expect the players, Miles in particular, to be at where he wants to be just now. He certainly has a part to play, he’s looked sharp and eager to impress, and he brings speed, acceleration and slickness of movement at the top end of the pitch.  Last season proved we were too reliant on Adam Rooney and before that he’d never been injured. He chalked up 99 games really quickly with 60 odds goals within that. When Rooney wasn’t there the burden was then all on Simon Church and a club like Aberdeen should have more options. Thankfully we have Jayden Stockley and Miles Storey to add to the strikers already here”.

Team news?

“Everybody is fit, bar Willo Flood”.

Any update on players going out?

“There is nothing imminent today. We’ve had plenty of enquiries for my players to go on loan, a lot of the younger ones, but I need to look after Aberdeen for now. We have an important game on Thursday. I’m not saying anything won’t happen, but it certainly won’t be happening today, we are just trying to focus on this game”.

Given your increased attacking options are you more tempted to play with a front 2?

“We went with a front two in the home game, with McLean beside Stockley. When teams play deeper people can end up coming shorter for the ball and that’s what happened with Kenny. We went two up top in the second half when Rooney came on as well. Each game is a challenge for us, we have good options and getting the right blend all over the pitch with the balance between attack and defence is really important. The game will be won over two ties as well, whilst we want to get the right result and will be doing all we can to get the right result, it is important that we don’t throw everything at it and keep some discipline as well. The level of team we are playing against are good enough to punish any lack of organisation or discipline within the team”.

The crowd played a big part in the home leg of Fola tie, more of the same would be helpful on Thursday?

“I thought the crowd were brilliant that night. They saw the intensity of the players and appreciated their efforts. They didn’t get too despondent when goals were being chalked off and chances getting missed and stayed with the team to the 90th minute when we got a couple of late goals. I think it’s important that the players see that and we give the supporters something to shout. The crowd played a big part in us getting the three goals which untimely saw us through.”  


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Dons head to Latvia with 3 goal lead : Live

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Line ups

Dons head to Latvia with 3 goal lead

July 15, 2016 12:17 am Author: Aberdeen FC

Three changes were made to the side which played in Luxembourg. Reynolds, Rooney and McGinn came back into the side whilst there were places on the bench for Miles Storey, Jayden Stockley as well as Wes Burns, who was signed late last night to beat the UEFA deadline.

Aberdeen made a positive start and in the 3rd minute Hayes was able to put over a ball from the left. He stood it up well and McLean got his head on it but the midfielder was always stretching and he could not direct it on target.  In the 6th minute a Dons free kick was flicked back into the box but Niall McGinn produces a weak header and the ball went wide.

Even in the early stages you could see that Ventspils were a decent side who were going to be difficult to break down.  In the 16th minute a quick break allowed Sinelnikovs to break down the left but thankfully his cross was well cut out by Taylor. A minute later Mclean picked the ball up deep and sprayed a long ball to Considine who produced a first time cross which went across the six-yard box and keeper Uvarenko had to look alert.
20 minutes in, the game was fairly even.

On 21 minutes a Tidenbergs free kick was well claimed by Lewis. The visitors would certainly be a threat from any set-pieces due to their height. On 22 minutes Hayes went for a mazy run and jinked away from five defenders, but could not beat the last man.

The first corner of the game on 23 minutes was wrongly awarded to Ventspils. They won a second moments later and it caused real problems. Lewis in the end had to work really hard to stop the ball going in at the near post but the ball skimmed the cross bar and landed at the feet of Kolesovs who at the back post missed a great chance for Ventspils. With the goal at his mercy he could not sort his feet out.

Back came the Dons.

Aberdeen responded well as McGinn nearly found Rooney in the 6-yard-box, then Shinnie was fouled in a dangerous position. McGinn's good ball in was flicked out by Jemelins for a corner. However, a poor corner from McLean came to nothing and stopped the momentum building.

Challenges from both sides were flying in and Portugese referee Pinheiro seemed happy to let the game flow.
Just after the half hour mark a great ball in from Logan on his left foot landed on Rooney's head at the back post, but the keeper smothered well.

On 35 minutes McLean was picked out after pulling wide. His cross was knocked behind for a second Dons corner. The ball in was not dealt with convincingly by keeper Uvarenko and then there was a game of pinball inside the area and Considine’s prod forward appeared to strike a Ventspils arm inside the area but the referee immediately waved play on. Then McLean cut a brilliant ball back but unfortunately there was no one on the same wave length to make the right run.

In the 37th minute the best move of the game led to the best chance so far as Hayes found Rooney, but he could not get the shot away cleanly. The ball was just slightly behind the striker. Then two minutes later McGinn did really well to get to the by-line and cut the ball back this time he found Shinnie who shot, the keeper fumbled and Kolesovs had to clear the ball off the line.

Aberdeen had really stepped up the pace and the Latvians were struggling to cope. However the Latvians defended well and game fizzled out at the end of the half with everything all square.
Aberdeen started the second half with an early corner and then a free kick on the edge of the area when Hayes was taken-out in the air. McGinn took it and although he beat the wall Uvarenko saved well and the keeper, who is also the skipper, did well to save the follow up from Rooney at his near post. Aberdeen kept up the pressure and McGinn had a half chance on the edge of the area but he did not connect properly and none of his team mates could divert the ball towards the net. Frustrating.

Taylor was then booked for a late tackle. Tempers then started to boil over a bit and shortly after McLean was booked for dissent. A number of decisions were going against the Dons but the players needed to refocus.
And to their credit they did. Great play by Hayes on 57 minutes as he tormented the left back and won a corner for his efforts. From the corner the ball was knocked up in the air. Rooney tried an overhead kick but his effort flew over the bar.

After a period of stalemate, on 65 minutes McGinn stepped inside and let fly from 25 yards. He caught the ball well but the keeper gathered after smothering the shot.

On 67 minutes the first change. An attacking move from the manager as Stockley came on and McLean was the player withdrawn. Straight away Stockley won a header but he could not find Rooney. In the 70th minute McGinn won a corner which Taylor headed over.

Then a minute later the decision by the manager to leave on Rooney to play with Stockley paid off. Rooney on the left wing did brilliantly to play a reverse pass to set Hayes free. Jonny had the space he needed to play a brilliant cross which picked out Stockley and he headed into the net from inside the six yard box.

On 74 minutes a deep corner was well kept in play by Reynolds at the back post. Although the ball was cleared as far as Jack near the half way line the skipper put a great ball back into the area which Taylor knocked down. A really brave header by Ash found Rooney and the Dons striker produced a superb finish to beat his marker and the keeper who was unsighted.

2-0 and the Dons had the lead they wanted.

On 79 minutes a nervy moment when Considine misjudged a high ball. Although the left back did well to recover the situation Tidenbergs put over an inviting ball but thankfully Ryan Jack, who had an excellent game, managed to intercept at the expense of a corner.

In the final five minutes the Dons went pushing for a third without committing too many bodies forward. There were a lot of tired players on both sides.

The visitors brought on striker Svarups and played two up front as they went in search of a late away goal.
On 87 minutes McGinn left the left back for dead and was eventually hauled down. On the edge of the area. Jack floated the ball up for Stockley but his header was off target.

In the 90th minute man of the match Adam Rooney was given a standing ovation as he was replaced by new boy Wes Burns. It was another inspired substitution from the manager. Incredibly with his first touch Burns scored. A McGinn corner was met brilliantly by Burns. It was an outstanding header. What a start for the Welshman.
A superb Aberdeen performance with so much to be positive about.


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