Kenny McLean is convinced Aberdeen can win all of their 11 remaining matches this season but the midfielder accepts that still might not be good enough to prevent Celtic retaining the Premiership title.
The Dons head to Tannadice tonight six points adrift of the leaders having dropped a crucial five points in their last two games against Inverness Caledonian Thistle and St Johnstone. Not that McLean is too despondent as the Pittodrie club started the season with eight consecutive victories for the first time in their history and those recent setbacks came after a 12-game unbeaten league run.
They now need just 20 points from the 33 available to beat last season’s record haul by a team outwith the Old Firm and the former St Mirren captain is confident that will be comfortably achieved. He is less certain whether that will be good enough to end Aberdeen’s 31-year wait for another league title but, whatever happens, McLean is adamant failure would have nothing to do with character defects
“We can go on a good run and win every game if we play well. We know we can do that, there is a belief here we can do it” he claimed.
“If we did win every game where would we finish? That’s hard to say, but Celtic have it in their own hands so we just look at ourselves.
“At the start of the season we won the first eight then we went 12 unbeaten so there has to be a belief we can do it again and so it should be.
“When we drop points people say we’ve blown our chance, it’s our bottle and whatever. But we’re not looking too far ahead, getting three points in every game is our only objective then you move on. We have dropped points at the wrong time so people are talking about bottle but we have a lot of character in that dressing room and that’s a fact.
“Every time you drop points you want the next game as soon as possible so it’s good we’ve got one just a few days later. We want to take it out on Dundee United now.”
McLean scored the only goal of the game the last time Aberdeen travelled to Tannadice in the opening league game of the season but has only managed two more in domestic football since. Someone who was much more prolific in his St Mirren days knows that’s a ratio that has to be improved, especially with Adam Rooney expected to be sidelined until just before the split. The Irishman has been responsible for 19 of their 46 league goals so far and he, along with fellow countryman Jonny Hayes, were sorely missed in the draw against St Johnstone at the weekend.
McLean added:“We all have to step up and score goals. Adam is a big loss, no matter what you say about it he will be, and Jonny Hayes has been probably our best player this season. They are two big players but we have a good squad and players can come in so people need to step up, not just myself and Niall McGinn.”
Hayes has made quicker than expected progress and is close to making a comeback while Shay Logan is free from suspension and is available again along with Craig Storie.
Manager Derek McInnes hopes his side will return to winning ways against the bottom club but even though United’s former captain would be sad to see his old team slip down a division there is no room for sympathy.
“United would be a big loss to the top flight. From our point of view at Aberdeen we enjoy games against them and this game has more ingredients than a normal fixture,” McInnes admits.
“We’ve had some good results down there the last couple of seasons and the fact 2,500 of our fans have already bought tickets for the game shows their appetite for the game and it is important we show the same appetite.”