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The Manager | Semi-final Preview

April 10, 2018 5:29 pm Author: AFC Media Team

An opportunity

“It’s a fantastic opportunity.

“We’d much rather be in it with that opportunity to get to the final than watching from the outside.

“The players have done well to get themselves back to Hampden. It’s our fifth visit over the past two years so we’re kind of getting used to the surroundings there and the familiarity of that. We’ve won our last couple of semi-finals and I think the experience of that hopefully helps us.

“Bar one game as a player and manager, I can only think of semi-finals as difficult games. They’re not normally a spectacle in terms of being enjoyable and sometimes it’s just all about getting through and getting the club into the final.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity and one we’re all keen to try and make the most of and get the club into a final. Having lost both finals last year, we’ve been very keen to get ourselves back there and get ourselves the opportunity to bring some silverware back. We have the opportunity on Saturday as do Motherwell and like every cup, every time you have to go and win a trophy you have to overcome challenges and we’ve got a tough one on Saturday just as Motherwell do. The opportunity is something we’re all excited about and look forward to.”

 

Semi finals

“As I said before semi-finals traditionally, when we’ve been involved or when you watch semi-finals up and down the country, are very rarely things of beauty.

“There’s a lot of drama, a lot of excitement because there’s so much resting on it and sometimes that can affect the performance. I’m just hoping my players can be confident enough on that stage and show their capabilities. It’ll certainly be competitive, but the thing about the cup is you’re either in it or you’re out. Either in a final or having the worst summer watching two other teams compete so it’s winner takes all and that’s what it’s all about in cup football. It’s important you just find a way. Of course, you want a bit of luck to go with you as well, but normally the team I feel that imposes themselves on it and sets about the task more positively and drives themselves into a final normally gets there.”

Motherwell

“I don’t care how people see it (favourites), I just see it as a really tough game. Motherwell have beaten us a couple of times and we’ve beaten them a couple of times this season and I don’t think there will be any real surprises. They might be surprised because their team may be a wee bit easier to guess than my team on Saturday, but by in large once the game starts and the ball rolls you’ll find two very competitive teams, two more than capable teams of getting themselves to a cup final.
“We’ve just got to find a way to overcome their challenge, be good enough on the day, don’t be restricted and be brave, get after the game, run, work and play ourselves into a final.”

 

Team news

“Obviously, we’re without three guys that have been playing week in week out and have a big influence on the side, but it’s wrong for me to dwell too much on that. It is what it is. We’ve won games before without key players. We’re used to Shinnie being suspended, not so much the other two. We’re without three key players, but that can’t be the narrative for this week. It can’t be something that I dwell on going into the game. It’s opportunities for others and we have a squad for circumstances like Saturday where other players will be able to step up and get their opportunity.

“Sometimes to negate the disappointment of that or balance it off you actually get a bit of impetuous and freshness into the team so it’s not all doom and gloom. We would all rather have them available of course, but we don’t so for me there’s no point in dwelling on it too much. The focus must be on the players who are available.

“Those three are out (McLean, Shinnie and Logan) and we’ve got one or two injuries that have caused us a bit of concern. A few boys haven’t trained yesterday and today so we’ll see how they are tomorrow and when they report again. We’ll hopefully get as many as possible (fit) for the weekend and hopefully by Thursday things will be a lot clearer.”

 

Last year

“I think it is a reference to be honest (last year). We lost two finals last year to arguably the best team we’ve seen domestically in a generation. It was a fantastic achievement their unbeaten record and I think everybody has an opinion that that is a top Celtic team. There’s no disgrace in losing both games, but certainly in the second game there was an attitude in my team and my club going into that game.

“I felt the attitude of the players on the day having looked at them and spoken to them in the build-up, there were no other thoughts other than winning the trophy. Now the result didn’t come, but the actual mindset was a clear change for me in terms of how I seen my players. There was an attitude about the club, with the supporters with the display and it felt as though we belonged on that stage. It was our third final and it was also our fourth visit to Hampden and it felt as if we belonged there.

“There was attitude about us and that pleased me. While we were disappointed with the final outcome we were inches away from winning a trophy with the pass for Kenny from Jonny. It was the end of an era with that team. That team was three or four years in the making and we’d worked towards it and it should have in my eyes played out with a trophy. That’s how I wanted it to finish for so many people, but this is a new squad, a new challenge, a new beginning and if we can get to a cup final in this first year with this squad and be in that position to win a trophy that would please me no end. The intention while I’m here is always to make Aberdeen competitive and is always to be pushing ourselves to get to cup finals and bring trophies back, which is what supporters want.

“A lot has happened on and off the pitch in the last few years and the majority of supporters would love a new stadium. It’s pleasing for them that we’re going to get a new training ground, it’s great that we get to cup finals, finish second in the league and get to Europe, but the most important thing for supporters is trophies. That is exactly how we see it as well.”

 

The form

“I’ve been pleased with the form of late. We spoke to the players about six or seven weeks ago and we said by the 7th of April lets be second in the league and in a semi-final. Last Saturday was the 7th of April.

“We wanted to be second in the league after the game clearly, but it’s still in our own hands to finish second as it is with Hibs and Rangers. We’re in the semi-final and that must be the focus now. It’s the biggest game that we’re facing because it’s the next one. If we can get into the cup final and use the momentum as we did last year in those final league games with the final to look forward to it’ll help us no end. We’re well aware of the responsibilities and we’ll be doing all we can to get the club and ourselves into a cup final. I’m really looking forward to taking that opportunity.”

 

The supporters

“The easiest thing in the world for an Aberdeen supporter being so far away from Hampden is to watch it on the TV then maybe go to the final if we get through. You can sit and watch it and not make the effort and not spend the money, but the fact that almost 12,000 have done exactly the opposite of that and have bought their ticket – we’ll be taking almost the same as we took for the semi-final against Hibs last year – it’s fantastic really. There’s not many if any other support that would do that and travel so far to make that effort. It’s something that we’re used to at Aberdeen, it’s something the supporters are used to having to go so far for these stages, but hopefully their efforts will be rewarded with a winning performance.”

 

 

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