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Post Split Week 3 | The Manager | Celtic Preview

May 2, 2019 12:50 pm Author: AFC Media Team

A win to avoid a Celtic title win

“Saturday we’re really looking forward to the game, It’s a game for our own purpose is very important for us. We’ve only got three games left and we’ve clearly got work to do to satisfy our own needs. As a consequence, with the way the fixtures land now Celtic can win the league here and the likelihood is they’re going to win it somewhere, but we don’t have any thoughts other than just trying to gain for ourselves and to get a positive result.

“I don’t think it comes into the players’ minds too much. I’m just trying to look after Aberdeen and make sure we get the points for our cause.

“That’s what we’ve got to concentrate on ourselves. The game’s tough enough anyway and I’m pretty sure Celtic will be eager to get that done as quickly as possible. For our own objectives we’re trying to make sure they celebrate next week because it’ll mean we’ve won the game and that’s what we’re going to work hard to try and do.”

Celtic’s nerves about getting over the line

“They’ve got good experience in the team and a manager who’s won titles before. They’ll know how to get the job done, but nobody’s said it was easy. I do think the league this season, as we’ve said more or less from the outset, has been far more competitive. Every team has shown at different stages their competitive side and can make it difficult for any team including Celtic.

“Celtic have been the most consistent team again this season and the league doesn’t lie. Getting over the line isn’t always easy and I’m pretty sure they will win it, but from our point of view we just want to concentrate on getting the three points that’s available. We’ve got work to do and could be doing with getting a couple of wins before the end of the season.”

The injury list

“It’s not even so much about going down the youth ranks, it’s more not having the team you want to play in terms of bringing that speed, real width and creativity.

“What we have got is still a nucleus of senior players, but every team needs a bit of balance and we have to find ways to give us a bit of what we want. When you’ve got so many players out it doesn’t help matters. With the speed of Niall, Connor, Gary and Shinnie that does make it that little bit more difficult because every team needs balance.

“What we will try and do is make sure we try annoy Celtic and are competitive and good enough in possession to cause them problems. We’ve got enough senior players here. Even last week the difficulties of how we wanted to play was impacted with injuries, but at the same time my players gave me everything. We kept going and they’ll continue to give everything. That gives me the confidence and I see how motivated and hardworking they are to try get the positive results.

“While it’s not the team at the start of the season or the team myself and the majority of the supporters would pick, it’ll be a team that are hellbent on putting in as much effort as they can to get the desired result for the club.

“At this stage of the season it’s all about having that top class focus and hopefully we can get the results. The players will need everybody’s help on Saturday and there’s an understanding from me that the performance doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be committed. Hopefully that commitment and effort shown will get us the points required.”

Joe Lewis contract extension

“I couldn’t be more pleased.

“I’ve sat here often enough when we’ve took the blows of players leaving and I do think it’s important we celebrate the news and take a lot of pleasure from it. When you lose players, it hits you hard and it’s important to enjoy it when you do manage to retain your players.

“Joe was one we were really keen to keep and we’d been speaking with him. We quickly moved that on at the back end of last week and he followed it up with a brilliant performance at the weekend. We had it agreed more or less and were just waiting for our timing to announce it.

“I couldn’t be more pleased. I think it’s a real shot in the arm to everybody at the club and a real boost because he’s been such a significant signing for us. He’s a key person as well as a key performer on the pitch and it’s great news. It sends out a good message for everybody and reinforces the message that this is a good message to be at.

“Joe can speak for himself, but it illustrates how happy he is not only professionally but also with his family life in Aberdeen. It’s fantastic news all round.

“We were given encouragement of how happy Joe is here and with the training ground and stadium plans Joe is well aware of how football works. He’s found a place here where he plays every week, he’s happy, professionally it ticks all the boxes for him and he gets a lot from it. Family life has got to be right as well and that has played a big part in it as well.”

Standard of Joe compared to the league

“I think we’ve got some very good goalkeepers in Scotland. Both Celtic goalkeepers are very strong, Allan McGregor is very strong and there’s several others throughout. You very rarely go to a game in the SPFL and you look at goalkeepers being a bit of a weakness. We’ve got such a high standard and Joe’s thankfully right up there.”

Influence Joe signing can have on others

“Everyone’s got their own personal plans and have to look after themselves, but I certainly don’t think these types of signings do any harm. Joe signing gives confidence to the support, to the board and to myself and there’s no doubt it gives that confidence into the dressing room as well.”

Training ground being used as a selling point

“The work’s been ongoing for the last wee while and we’ve been able to take potential signings to the new site and show them the plans. That’s something we’ve not been able to do of late so even being able to do that recently is a positive. They’re cracking on with that and hopefully it’ll be ready on schedule.

“It’s exciting we’ll have a home to train at every day and a base that we can call our own. It’s a real positive for the club so any potential new signing, rather than avoiding the subject as we have done in the past, will be one of our first port of calls when we get them up to Aberdeen.”

SFA Tribunal

“It is what it is and I’ll make comment after the hearing today. Thankfully we managed to change it because of Billy McNeill’s funeral tomorrow, which I was keen to attend. I’m just keen to get it resolved, but I admitted and was apologising right away on the day. That hasn’t changed because I wish I hadn’t responded, but I also feel there was real mitigating circumstances and hopefully that gets looked at as well.”

Lewis Ferguson PFA Young Player of the Year award

“There’s some good players in there, but for me Lewis has had the best season right from when he’s came through. From the early games against Burley to quickly establishing himself. With the journey he’s came from a young player at Hamilton and in and out of their team, and not having a lot of games. From where he is now and what he’s managed to squeeze in to his season he deserves that nomination. For me he deserves the award and hopefully that will be the case.

“He’s in with some good young players there and it’s good to see three young Scottish players in it. “Lewis has come from not having a lot of Premiership experience and his journey from where he is to now has been the best story. Hopefully he gets the award. Being nominated in that company is the least he deserves and he deserves a lot of credit for that.”
Message to other young players coming to the club

“Whether it’s young players coming through the academy or young players coming from outwith the challenge is there for them to come here and establish themselves. Lewis is a fine example of that and he has been along with a McKenna and latterly a Connor McLennan they’ve found a way to establish themselves in the team.

“They are the pitch and you don’t have to pitch too hard when the evidence is there and these boys have been a huge catalyst in being able to say to young players that you can come here and establish yourselves and get involved in the Scottish set up. Lewis and McKenna have been a standard bearer for a lot of our younger ones.”

Team news

“Shay’s back training. He’s been out a long time probably he comes through the next couple of days with his training should be in the squad. McGinn, Gary, Shinnie, Tommie Hoban are out and Shay being back helps with numbers even if it’s to play some sort of role.

“There’s progress with Frank Ross, but not enough to be back available before the end of the season. With pre-season work we’re hopefully be back fully functional for then, but it’s been a really frustrating campaign for him and us.”

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