ABERDEEN striker Scott Vernon admits he feels like a different player after rediscovering his goalscoring touch.
Vernon looked like a player shorn of confidence when he passed up several good chances in his first appearance of the season, a 2-1 defeat by Hearts in August. But he came off the bench to fire an impressive winner against Inverness last month and followed that up with a hat-trick against Falkirk in the League Cup.
The Englishman scored 28 times in his first two seasons at Pittodrie but the goals dried up last term and he only struck twice in ten months before his recent spree. And he admits his confidence had suffered before he re-ignited his Dons career.
“A striker scoring goals is a lot happier and feels like a lot better player than a striker that’s not scoring,” said Vernon ahead of today’s Scottish Premiership visit of Dundee United. “It’s good for my confidence. Early on in the season, I wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked. I managed to get a chance and do the business and get a few goals.
“I’m not looking to rest on my laurels and want to kick on and get more goals now.”
The 29-year-old said confidence was a huge factor in the life of a centre-forward. “I’d like to say it’s not but it is,” the former Oldham, Blackpool and Colchester player said.
“With all strikers, it’s a confidence position. Most positions on the pitch are confidence positions but strikers are under pressure to score goals. If you go a few games without scoring, all of a sudden the pressure is on. It’s that fine line of getting a goal or two and then, all of a sudden, you are in a totally different mindset and feel like a different player. That’s how much it can change.”
Aberdeen sit a point above Dundee United in fourth place and Vernon admits that today’s clash is a big test of their early-season progress following four consecutive years outside the top six.
“Dundee United have been up there the last few seasons making the top six,” he said. “They have proven time and time again they can do it.
“It’s a big aim of ourselves to be up there this season. We feel we have had a decent enough start to the season. If we can kick on from there and turn those niggly performances where we are not playing so well and losing into maybe getting a draw and nicking a win, we feel we can do that.”
Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara says that his side are heading into the match with confidence high thanks to their recent run of fine form.
A win would see them move up from sixth place in the table and in so doing leapfrog their north-east rivals.
United are undefeated in the league since losing to Celtic just before the close of the transfer window and McNamara believes they are in fine fettle. He said: “The lads are in good spirits. We’ve had the international break and now it’s up to us to try and carry on from where we left off.
“Our last game was a very good 1-0 win over Kilmarnock in the league, which was very pleasing. We played a lot of good football that day and won through an excellent goal from Nadir Ciftci. It’s a case of trying to maintain those standards when we go to Aberdeen, which is never an easy place to go to.”
McNamara’s side have been praised for their style of football and that is something he wants to see them continue. He said: “We’re better suited to getting the ball down and playing football because that’s what we’re all about. We’ve got players who like to play to their strengths and that’s getting forward and trying to attack the opposition. Aberdeen have several talented players but, as always, we’ll concentrate on ourselves and try to get the right result.”
McNamara wants his side to continue their recent revival with a win for their fans.
He said: “I think they appreciate what we’re trying to do. They’ve been brilliant in home games and it would be nice to give them something to cheer about up in Aberdeen.”
United are waiting to see how Scotland Under-19 pair John Souttar and Ryan Gauld are after their midweek exertions abroad.
Winger Gary Mackay-Steven hurt his leg in training but McNamara hopes he will be fit to face the Dons. He added: “Gary took a knock but we’re hopeful he’ll be all right in time.”