Shay Logan remains defiantly optimistic that Celtic can be overhauled in the Premiership title race while acknowledging that, realistically, Aberdeen stand a better chance of splitting the Old Firm.
That’s an understandable approach for someone who hoped to make the grade as a youth team player with Manchester City but has instead carved out a successful career at Pittodrie. So much so that when the Dons team is announced to face Partick Thistle tonight Logan will join goalkeeper Joe Lewis and Graeme Shinnie as the only ones listed to have started every game this season.
Defeat at home by the defending champions last Saturday means Aberdeen kick off ten points adrift of leaders Celtic, although they will move back above Rangers into second place by beating Partick.
It’s the position they have occupied for the last two seasons and Logan insists there’s nothing wrong with believing that finishing there again would be any less of an achievement in the circumstances.
“You never count yourself out of the title race but if we can’t do that then we want to finish in second spot,” he said.
“If Celtic finish first then we want to finish second. We are not happy with finishing second but it is better than third and so on. Rangers have brought quality into the league and they will be looking to get that second spot. It is going to be a good fight and one that we are more than capable of dealing with but we need to let results do the talking.
“It would be a massive achievement to finish above Rangers as the budget they have is a lot higher than ours.
“If we can finish second and above Rangers we will sit down at the end of the season and reflect on it being a good achievement.”
A year ago, Aberdeen were only two points behind Celtic after 11 games while currently the gap is in double figures, even though the league leaders have played a game fewer than Derek McInnes’s side.
That’s despite the fact the Dons manager has arguably assembled the strongest squad available in his three and a half years in charge at Pittodrie but still suffered two defeats in the head-to-heads.
Not that those results have dented Logan’s confidence ahead of the third meeting at the end of this month in the Betfred Cup final but the Aberdeen full-back knows a change of manager at Parkhead has made things considerably tougher for the rest.
“Celtic are better than last season and that is down to the manager as he is a good boss,” he added. “Brendan Rodgers has shown this season compared to last season that he can get the most out of his men. He has brought in quality signings in Dembele and Sinclair who are arguably English Premiership players. To get them up here is a real boost for them.
“Celtic have played well this season and fair play to them but we have given a good account of ourselves when we played them but they are getting the results and performances that we are not getting at the minute.
“But it is the toughest opposition Celtic could have had in the final. It is going to be a tough game for us and we know that but it will also be a tough game for them and they know that. So we will go into the cup final with confidence.”
McInnes knows wins at Firhill tonight and Inverness after the international break would be the preferred preparation for that trip to Hampden Park but expects a tough test this evening. Ash Taylor remains the only injury absentee with Adam Rooney and James Maddison expected to be back against a team McInnes believes his old pal Alan Archibald can steer into the top six this season.
“I think this is the best squad Alan has had in his time at Partick,” he claimed. “He’s signed well and has got a real size about them now, they are a big side.
“They are impressive, in Doolan and Azeez they have goals in them up front. Azeez has come in, he’s big and powerful and has been scoring goals. His pace causes teams problems.
“Alan has got them playing a way to get the best out of them and their last two results have been very impressive. Those results have taken them away from the bottom of the table but I think it’s higher up they will be looking now.”