ABERDEEN winger Peter Pawlett insists he is not a diver – and that his “natural” way of falling is working against him.
Pawlett was booked for simulation by Alan Muir during Aberdeen’s 2-1 defeat by Hearts last weekend despite appearing to be caught by Jamie Walker’s sliding challenge just inside the box. But it is not the first time the 22-year-old has been cautioned in such fashion. He received his second two-match ban for simulation from a Scottish Football Association panel in May over the penalty incident that sealed Dundee’s relegation. Pawlett was also booked for diving twice in a month earlier this year.
However, he argued he cannot easily change the way he goes down. Pawlett said: “I think I was unfortunate against Hearts. I think TV evidence clearly showed I was clipped. I think the way I go down doesn’t help the ref’s decision but that’s the natural way I go down. I’m not diving, I’ve done that ever since I was a kid.
“I know when people look at it, and I sometimes look at it and think: ‘What am I doing?’ But at the time it’s natural and I am not putting anything on. The physio said to me: ‘You need to change the way you go down’. But that would be diving. It’s difficult, especially when you are going at such a speed, to think about the way you are going to go down.”
One of Pawlett’s bookings for diving came during a loan spell with St Johnstone, who provide the opposition for Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership today.
Pawlett said: “I was there last season and I really enjoyed my time there, they’re a great bunch of lads. They are all good, hard-working professionals.
“They’ve got a decent set-up, they’re not as big as Aberdeen in terms of fan base, but the things they believe in, the modern football techniques they employ, mean they are a very good set-up.”
Meanwhile, Chris Millar is sure his former St Johnstone manager Derek McInnes will have Aberdeen challenging at the top end of the table.
But the midfielder will view the Perth club’s season as a failure if they are not challenging in the top six come the end of the campaign.
McInnes has made an early impact at Pittodrie and Millar feels his thorough approach will pay dividends.
The 30-year-old, who is now in his sixth season at McDiarmid Park, said: “He had a big impact on my career. He brought me here from Morton and developed me. I have felt since I came here I have always improved. He gave me a chance to play SPL football and his attention to detail and work ethos is something I have taken from him. We still keep in contact and he is good for advice.
“Derek has always been very thorough in his preparation on and off the park, with sports science, analysis and different ways to improve. Sometimes it’s the wee things, a tweak here and a tweak there, that can make things better.
“If they continue going the way they are, Aberdeen are a fantastically-supported club, it’s good for the Scottish game to have a strong Aberdeen side competing in the league. They have a strong squad and they have been rightly tipped to be challenging for second or third place this year.”
But the 30-year-old added: “I think we have as strong a squad as anyone outside Celtic. We keep talking about the size of the club but we have proved and established ourselves as a top-six side.
“If we don’t finish in the top six this season I would see that as failure. We have done that the last two seasons and I feel we have as strong a squad if not stronger than we have had in the previous two years.
“Maybe Aberdeen are a bigger club but player for player we are definitely able to compete with them.”