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The Manager | Hearts Preview

April 6, 2018 2:37 pm Author: AFC Media Team

Performances

“With the way we’ve been performing of late and the results we’ve been getting, we look forward to any of the upcoming games.

“Certainly, going to Tynecastle is always one that supporters, players and staff alike all look forward to. I think it’ll be a tough game. Although there’s not much on the game for Hearts, with the crowd that they get there, it’ll be as competitive as ever. The objective for us is to go down there and try and keep building on the form that we’re in at the minute to try and get another strong performance that gives us a chance to win the game.

“I’m enjoying watching the team at the minute. I think a lot of the players own game and level of performances have been good. There’s been a far more robustness about our defending.

“We’ve been very competitive of late, but it was great last Saturday against St Johnstone to show that attacking threat as we know we’re capable of scoring more goals. Even the other night, I know the goals came a bit later in the second half, I though the intention and build up play was very good. I think from that side of it, while you can still carry that threat like we did the other night, keep the clean sheet at the same time, it gives you the chance to win any game. There’s a lot of players hitting good form just at the right time.

“Good players play with an edge and I think there’s reasons you can look at each and every case, but by in large the team has performed pretty well and consistently throughout the season. I think we’ve always been a team capable of going on these types of runs so it’s great to have it at this moment, but we also know we’ve got to guard against any sort of poor performance or complacency. We’ve got to make sure we recognise the motivation that’s required to win games at this stage of the season. We’ll be up against a lot of good teams. We play Hearts twice in the remaining fixtures, we’ll play Hibs, Rangers, Celtic and Kilmarnock so there’s some proper games there to be involved in. That in itself brings you that edge and concentration so hopefully we can be as strong as we can be. Hopefully we can achieve what we want to achieve throughout the remainder of the season.

“I wasn’t even aware of that (Hearts unbeaten at Tynecastle) I’m not really to concerned about it too much. I just want to go down and win the game. I’ve got some good memories of going down there with Aberdeen to Tynecastle and I think the game always lends itself to a good atmosphere with both sets of supporters. We’ve sold out our allocation. That’s always good to have that vocal support there and that I think encourages the players. There’s no doubt about it we have to play well. I thought Hearts had the better of proceedings at Murrayfield and we came away with a point.

“We were glad with the point in the end. I thought we had the better of proceedings here at Pittodrie and we were very unfortunate not to win the game. It was only through some good saves and good defending from Hearts.”

Hearts

“It’s a game we can win, but we’re going to have to play well because I think Hearts are certainly far more competitive and robust under Craig and he’ll have plans for them going forward no doubt. They’re more than a capable team on their day.

“I think Hearts’ strengths are they’re robustness and they’ve clearly improved defensively. When they’ve got a front two of Lafferty and Naismith they’re always going to keep you on your toes. “There’s a platform there for Craig and Hearts to go and get good results. They’ve introduced a few youngsters this season as well, but they’ve got a very experienced team. The fact that they’ve been unbeaten at Tynecastle since they’ve came away from Murrayfield suggests that they’re a confident team playing in front of their supporters. It’ll be difficult, but we’re planning for it to be difficult for Hearts as well because we’re a good team and we’ll show that tomorrow.

“There was a lot expected of Hearts, but since Craig’s came in he’s put his stamp on it. I know it probably wasn’t a situation he wanted to find himself in, but since he’s came in it’s clear things have improved there. Not only defensively, but they’re far more competitive that’s clear. He spoke about trying to reshape the squad for next season to try and get to where they want to get to. I think everybody would be expecting Hearts to be competing for those European spots and I’m sure that’ll be disappointing for them again not to be in the latter stages of the cup. I think it’s clear Craig’s went in and grabbed things and steered them in the right direction. They’re too good and too big a club not to see that Improvement and I’m sure they’ll get there in time, but for us we’ve got to make sure we’re good enough regardless of what Hearts team turns up.”

The week ahead

“Regardless win, lose or draw we’ll be ready for the semi-final. It’s too big a game not to be so there will be no hangover if we don’t get a result. The intention is to go try and keep the winning run going and I think that can help.

“Getting that combination of results breeds confidence and that gets that momentum. We want to keep that going for as long as possible. We’re also aware of the need for us to take responsibility for that and we need to try and take care of our own performance regardless of the opponent. We’ve faced some tough opponents. In the past while it’s been St Johnstone, Dundee, Motherwell – all tough games, but we’ve managed to find a way to win them and hopefully we can find a way to win tomorrow.”

Team news

“McGinn is back in the squad but Nwakali who will probably miss out tomorrow and the intention is for him to train at the beginning of the week.”

U20s

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes takes in the Youth Cup semi-final game

“I’m delighted for Paul Sheerin, Scott Anderson and the boys.

“I really enjoyed the game yesterday and they were very good with Bruce Anderson getting his hat-trick. I think if you’ve got a good youth team and set up it’s maybe an indication where the club is at. It’s been a long time since we’ve got the club into a Youth Cup final. I think it’s 2003 and we won the league a couple of years ago for the first time in 20 odd years. It’s not always about winning at the development stage, but certainly doesn’t do them any harm in a cup competition. The boys will go to Hampden now and have that opportunity to bring home a bit of silverware. That for me lifts everybody. From the first team players who are very vocal with their support, to the staff, the Chairman, the supporters, everybody’s really keen to get that success at youth level.

“Ultimately the intention is to try and get as many of those into the first team. It shows you the good work that’s being done by Paul and it was a good boost yesterday to see the team and how they celebrated getting into the final. We’ll look forward to it when it comes around.

“We’ve had quite a few players out on loan as well. Also Dean Campbell is captain of the team and he’s out injured and has been for the last while as well, so they’ve had their problems. Paul’s squad is tight enough and good enough to still get consistent results and it’s a credit to them. Ultimately out of any successful youth team there always seems to be two or three that seem to find their way. Who that two or three may be remains to be seen, but there’s certainly a lot of talent there. What they have got is a real togetherness and I think that’s a credit to how Paul works with them.

“Scott McKenna and others should be an inspiration to them, but certainly Scott’s one who was playing in the 20’s not so long ago and has just gone from strength to strength.”

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