KENNY McLean feels he is finally justifying the £300,000 Aberdeen paid St Mirren for the midfielder back in January now that the goals have started to flow for him again.
That deal marked the first time in years that the Pittodrie club had paid a transfer fee for any player and their manager Derek McInnes certainly felt it was money well spent given the player’s contribution in the remainder of that season.
However, McLean himself was far from satisfied with his form during that period and admits to enduring a frustrating first few months with the Dons because of a failure to score a single goal.
That was certainly in stark contrast to the start of the campaign with St Mirren as he still ended last season as the relegated club’s top scorer despite leaving Paisley with nearly half of the season remaining.
Any lingering worries have evaporated now though as the midfielder has resumed normal service with five goals in just 12 appearances so far this term in addition to proving a key figure in Aberdeen’s stunning seven-game winning streak in the Premiership.
“It’s been a great start for me being able to contribute some goals and good performances along the way,” claimed a relieved McLean. “I think I had to get going early on this season and, thankfully, that’s what I’ve done, so long may it continue.
“Frustration got the better of me at times last season as the goals just weren’t coming after I first moved to Aberdeen. That’s a big thing because goals bring confidence and I’m playing with real confidence now that they are coming. If you are branded as a goalscorer then you always want to be on the scoresheet and keep doing better, which is what I feel I am now.
“Playing in this team is really bringing out the best in me with the way we go forward and the way the manager wants us to play.That is really suiting me and right now I am getting better.”
That confidence has been evident throughout the entire Aberdeen team this season, culminating in a victory against Celtic last weekend that was so impressive that it has even got the bookmakers cutting the odds on them actually winning the title this season.
Now the task is to consolidate their five-point advantage over the defending champions by winning at Tynecastle, a venue where they have taken just six points from their last 11 visits.
Of course, recent form means the Dons are an even more prized scalp for the opposition nowadays but it’s the sort of additional pressure McLean is confident they can cope with.
He added: “Beating Celtic was always going to be big for us. That shows how well we are playing at the moment and we go down to Tynecastle just trying to better that again. I’m sure everyone wants to beat us given the position we are in and Hearts will want to be the first team to take something off us.
“But the way we are playing we go into every game with confidence that we can get the three points and that will be the feeling at Tynecastle.”
Aberdeen will be forced into at least one change from the team that beat Hamilton in midweek to move five points clear of Celtic and six ahead of Hearts. Jonny Hayes lost his appeal against last Saturday’s straight red card and misses the trips to Tynecastle tomorrow and Easter Road for Wednesday’s League Cup tie.