ABERDEEN manager Derek McInnes knows there is still work to be done before he can fully reflect on a successful first full season in charge.
McInnes has completed a manager of the year awards double with plaudits from the Scottish Football Writers’ Association following the PFA Scotland prize.
The League Cup winners wrapped up Europa League qualification on Saturday, despite a 5-2 defeat at Celtic Park.
But they are being pushed all the way by Motherwell for second place in the Scottish Premiership.
The Dons lead by a point going into their clash with Dundee United at Tannadice on Tuesday, with Sunday’s meeting with the Lanarkshire side at Pittodrie looking like a decider after Aberdeen picked up two points from their first three post-split matches.
“I think that was always going to be the chance that that was the case,” McInnes said.
“We suffered our first our league defeat in quite a while on Saturday and we’re well aware that draws at this stage of the season, which we’ve had a few of late, won’t always get the job down.
“We feel there’s games to be won for us to be totally satisfied with our work this season. Games against Dundee United are always exciting anyway and the fact that both teams have a lot to play for it should be an indication of the type of game it’s going to be. It’s game on.
“It’s two massive games for us and it’s good to have something still to play for at this stage of the season. We certainly have plenty to go for.
“European football will be great to bring back to the club but hopefully now, the one last thing we can go for it is to finish the season strongly by finishing in second and that’s incentive enough for anyone.”
The game falls only 11 days before United’s William Hill Scottish Cup final date with St Johnstone, but Jackie McNamara’s men can seal a European spot before then if they win two games and Motherwell lose twice.
McInnes said: “United’s priority is obviously the Scottish Cup but they have still got an outside chance of Europe through the league so I am sure they will be going for that.
“Any game against Aberdeen is big for them as it is for an Aberdeen player going against Dundee United, so there will be enough to make it competitive.
“Dundee United have had a really good season and the fact they have a cup final to look forward to suggests that. Jackie and his team have done extremely really. There have been a lot of big performances from his players.
“Going to Tannadice is one of the toughest fixtures any team can have but it’s one we enjoyed on New Year’s Day and put in a strong performance to win the game and I am sure it will be something similar required to try and give us a chance to win this one.”