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The Manager | Betfred Cup Final Preview

November 26, 2018 6:56 pm Author: AFC Media Team


Michael Devlin Injury Update

“It’s important we try to be as positive as we can because he’s obviously a very important player for us.

“Like every team you want key players available, especially for a game like Sunday. When I first took the phone call when he was away with Scotland we anticipated prior to the scan that he had no chance and was out. It was a real blow for us then and we kind of dealt with it.

“After the scan the feeling was that he had an outside chance and we’re just going to run with that at the minute. We’ll prepare this week for without him and for with him.

“Mikey’s had good days and bad days over the last few days. Today wasn’t a great day in how he was feeling, yesterday was better and the weekend he was better so he’s got an opportunity. He’d have to train fully by Friday for me if he’s going to start the game. While we’ve got a chance and a shot at it, we’ll give him every encouragement to be fit.

“Cup finals don’t come around all the time and Michael’s had a lot of disappointments with missing out for Scotland. He has also had a couple of real sore injuries that are a test of his character and his professionalism, so he’s overcame a lot of disappointments.

“Of course, he would want to be there, but he’s got to be right. We would never put a boy at risk if there was a risk of putting him out for much longer. We’ll way it up towards the end of the week and if he’s fit great, if he’s not fit we’ll adjust accordingly.

“Every manager wants their players to be fit and available, especially their more influential players, but me standing over my physios berating them and threatening them that he’s got to be fit isn’t going to get the job done so you’ve just got to deal with it.

“We had one change on Saturday from the team that was so good against Hibs and that was Michael, but it was a poor team performance on Saturday. You don’t win a game with one player and you don’t lose a game because of one player. It’s a team performance and I can’t get too hung up here. I’ve got a responsibility for my whole club and my whole squad to be ready for Sunday and it can’t just be dependent on one player.”

Approach to Celtic

“I’ll probably look to the last couple of games we’ve played Celtic. There’s been two 1-0 results, one for us at the back end of last season and one for Celtic at Celtic Park this year so in the last few months we’ve had two very tight games against them. The game we won, there was nothing really in the game and we’ve come up with a big moment to get the three points and an important result. Scott Sinclair came up with the goal last time and there was nothing in that game also. Our last two performances have been encouraging for us. When you play against good teams – and Celtic are a good side, we all recognise that especially with where they are at the minute – you have to get the balance right between attacking a defending and have to make sure you recognise and nullify their key players from having an enjoyable day.

“If they start enjoying the game then it can be very difficult for you. I feel, looking back at the previous finals, we were far better in the second final against them and gave ourselves a chance to win. It’s our fourth final in just over five years and you mention the two we lose, but I look at the one we won. Even though it wasn’t against Celtic we found a way to win that. We haven’t lost a goal in the competition yet and have beaten three Premiership teams already. We’ve had to win at Easter Road, we’ve had to win at Hampden against Rangers so it’s a tough test for us to have to go and beat Celtic at Hampden as well.

“We feel like we’ve got a big performance in us to win the game. Celtic are the bigger club, they’ve got the bigger squad, but we’re capable of the bigger performance on the day and that’s what we’ll be searching for.”

U16 Cup Final

“That was a good lift for us. All the staff were there and a lot of the senior players were there and it was good for the young lads. They set out the task at the start of the season to win that cup and they did it so good on them for that. At any level you want to see your club being successful so they’ve set the tone for the week.”

Winning Silverware

“It is important, but it’s not easy. Prior to coming in we’d only won one trophy in 20 odd years so that suggests it’s not easy. At least now we’re giving ourselves a chance. No other club outwith Celtic have been in more semi-finals or finals or competed in Europe as much as us in recent seasons and I’m proud of that.

“I’m proud of my team now for getting themselves into a position to get to another cup final and I’ll be even prouder if we can get the result and get the trophy we all want. I think we’re capable of winning and I felt that at the start of the season when the cup competition started and I feel it more now with this game on Sunday.”

Previous Hampden Experience

“I think it is important (Hampden experience). I always remember Sir Alex saying to me after we’d lost the 3-0 game against Celtic that it’s only by revisiting the surroundings and have a familiarity that players start to feel at home and are more capable of delivering a performance. He said he had umpteen international players who had played 400/500 games but didn’t turn up in a final and sometimes it can happen.

“By revisiting them you get more familiar with your surroundings and I feel it has helped us being here so often in the last wee while. It doesn’t give you any guarantees or any real advantage on the game because you’ve still got to do all the things we spoke about, but I certainly think it doesn’t do any harm.

“Even my players involved in the national team recently trained here every day and have been involved in a few positive results. Mckenna, Shinnie, Devlin briefly and Gary Mackay-Steven’s being involved helps because we know Celtic have that. It’s good to see Aberdeen feel that as a club we belong here and feel at home.”

Effects From Celtic’s European Trip?

“I think it will if they pick up some injuries, but people mentioned prior to the Hearts game they went in after a European game and they won, they normally still win the next game. You don’t last at Celtic if you’re not ready to play in a cup final. We have the advantage of a full working week to prepare for the game on Sunday, but I don’t think it will be any real advantage going into the game on Sunday. Celtic have the squad and experience to deal with that.”

Reaction from Motherwell game

“We went into the game on Saturday in good form so what happens prior to any game isn’t any real indication. I’d rather have won the game on Saturday going into the game on the back of another clean sheet, but I’m not going to dwell on it too much. It’s not going to affect the build up to this one because I remember the first cup final with Aberdeen, how eagerly anticipated it was. We had 43,000 fans travelling from all over the world to get there because it had been so long and so eagerly anticipated for

Aberdeen winning a trophy again.

“I felt the weight of expectation then and I still feel it now. I also want to feel the same excitement and adrenaline and have that enthusiasm for a cup final. Every other manger, player and set of supporters in Scotland would rather be sitting here and preparing for a cup final and we’ve got to remind ourselves of that. Whether we’d won on Saturday, which I’d have preferred, it doesn’t have any bearing on how we approach this. We mean to enjoy this week, we mean to enjoy performing at our best on Sunday and hopefully winning a trophy.”

The Backing From The Fans

“A lot was made by the so-called lack of numbers at the Semi-Final, but the 10/11k that was here certainly helped the team especially when we we’d went in front. They got great backing and it was great that they were given the first opportunity, the ones who came to the Semi-Final to come here again for the final. Clearly the response from the ticket sales has been great and have sold in a few days. 20,000 and that’s always the way it is for clubs in finals. Supporters want to see their team lift a trophy and hopefully that’s exactly what can do, but it is important we have that support.”

Manager’s Part In The Game

“I think sometimes the manager’s part can get overplayed at times. I feel the players are capable of delivering a performance and as a manager it’s maybe the preparation for the game that you want to make sure you use. At times we’ve stayed away for a few days prior to a final and it’s not worked, sometimes it has worked, but we just treat it as a normal game and stay in Aberdeen for the week and travel down to Glasgow on Saturday.

“Keeping it as simplistic as possible and as natural as possible for the players. We want to play the game when it comes around and not the occasion, but it’s important we still enjoy the build up to it all. Getting to cup final doesn’t always come around for players and us as staff need to make sure the players are in great form physically, mentally and tactically for the game at 3 o’clock. If they are at their best then we have a chance.

“The motivation to win is always there. We’ve changed that Aberdeen in the last few years as draws feel like defeats and defeats hit home hard. Winning is what we try to do and the game is there to be won on Sunday. Sometimes doing anything different and the players see me different so it’s important they’ve got to the final being what they are and it’s that that’ll be important for us to try and win the game on Sunday. We’ll not do anything too radical or different ahead of Sunday.”

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