There has been precious little talk about Aberdeen challenging Celtic for the Premiership title this season. Derek McInnes’ men may have been the only team to stretch the champions in any way these past two seasons. The debate that surrounds them now, though, is whether they can avoid slipping to third or fourth with Rangers on the scene and Hearts expected to step up their pursuit of a top-two finish.
Yet, as his team look to shake off the disappointment of their ill-deserved Europa League exit at the hands of Maribor in midweek, Aberdeen captain Ryan Jack isn’t looking at any downsides to the potential of there being more pretenders to Celtic’s crown. Or, in all honesty, more teams pitching for next best to Brendan Rodgers’ men.
The Pittodrie men could not break a flawed Celtic’s stranglehold on the title because on the five occasions they could have moved above Ronny Deila’s men, they dropped points. Moreover, their challenge fizzled right out because they lost five of their last six Premiership encounters. For Jack then there is ample reason to believe progression rather than regression is what can be lie ahead for his club in Premiership campaign that begins for them in Perth this afternoon.
“The way we’ve added to the squad and with the players we’ve brought in, we’re looking good,” said the midfielder, with new arrival Jayden Stockley, Wes Burns and Miley Storey providing more attacking options. “We’re looking to have another successful campaign. It’s always hard to meet the standards you’ve set for yourself.
“But that’s what we have to do. We always want to improve and get better in every season. As a squad, our aim is to improve on our points tally from last year in the league. Last season there were spells when we had a chance to get our noses in front of Celtic. We could have seen out games but never took our opportunities. But we expect to be stronger this season.
“Rangers coming back into the league will be good for us. It gives us games against them at Pittodrie and Ibrox and they’ll be great occasions for the players. Those matches will be packed out and you want to be involved in that. Also, you look at the players Rangers are signing and it’s clear they’re going to have a push for the title as well. It’s strong competition but we’re looking forward to that.
“From our fans’ point of view, they’ll be relishing it. Every team is adding to their squad so it’ll be a tough campaign.
But we’re really happy with the players we’ve brought in. With Rangers back up, a lot has been said about them being the team to push Celtic. As a group, we haven’t spoken about that side of it. We’ll just concentrate on ourselves and what we want to do.
“We don’t see any reason why we can’t go on to improve on our points tally from last season and put up a good fight. It might work in our favour, Rangers being there. On a couple of occasions last year we didn’t really want to rely on other teams to do our work for us. But a few times, if Celtic had lost we’d have gone ahead and it just didn’t happen. This time Rangers will make the league stronger and that can only be for the better.”