ABERDEEN manager Derek McInnes has attempted to dampen expectations of his side ahead of next Saturday’s Pittodrie showdown with Celtic.
Yesterday’s 3-1 victory over Motherwell at Fir Park maintained his team’s 100 per cent start to the new Scottish Premiership campaign and will have heightened hopes among their fans of a credible challenge at the top end of the table.
“You are caught between a rock and a hard place,” said McInnes. “You don’t want to fan the flames but it’s good to feel good about your club and it’s brilliant that the support feel that optimism. Performances like today’s will give the support every encouragement, but it’s just two games. It’s a good start, nothing more than a good start. We face another challenge next week against Celtic and we’ll be ready for it.
“The fans have probably been here before so I don’t think anyone is getting too excited. You just want your team to go out and win. All we can deal with is the here and now. We dealt with Motherwell very well today after going behind.”
His team’s reaction to Henri Anier’s goal for Motherwell after just 40 seconds was the most satisfying aspect of the victory for McInnes, as two Niall McGinn penalties and a Mark Reynolds goal secured all three points.
“It obviously wasn’t the start we wanted to the match, although there was a clear foul on Joe Shaughnessy in the build-up to it,” added McInnes.
“It gave Motherwell something to hang onto but I thought our response was excellent. . . [it] was everything I want from the team and I felt they got their just rewards in the end.
“It was a good, strong performance showing the right mentality. They don’t need to show me they are good players, I know I’ve got good players. They need to show the other side of it. The two victories we have had now this season have been achieved in different manners, which is pleasing.”
McInnes is hopeful the hip injury sustained by Russell Anderson, which forced the Aberdeen captain to limp off early in the second half, isn’t serious.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall admitted that Aberdeen were deserved winners but was unhappy at the second penalty kick awarded to the visitors by referee John Beaton.
“We got off to a great start but the better team won on the day,” said McCall.
“After how well we defended against Hibs last week, I was disappointed at the way we gave the goals away today. Having said that, I’ve spoken to the referee about the third goal. He says he saw a coming together with people jostling for position. If that’s a penalty, there are five or six in every game.
“But that’s not why we lost. We lost because we conceded two goals in quick succession. We got a little bit deflated and Aberdeen got a lift.”