BARRY Robson has watched Aberdeen’s Europa League opponents attempt to kick Peter Pawlett off the park and believes the midfielder should actually be relishing the experience.
The former Celtic and Scotland star says it’s an indication of how well his Aberdeen team-mate is playing that he has been left battered and bruised in continental competition this season.
FK Daugava’s rough housing of Pawlett was so severe that he missed the second leg of the 8-0 aggregate win through injury and FC Groningen tried similar tactics in Thursday’s goalless draw at Pittodrie. Their right back Hans Hateboer in particular was given a real chasing and was eventually booked in the second half for a series of fouls on the pacy midfielder.
There was no question of simulation from someone suspended for diving in the past and Robson has told Pawlett to enjoy the attention as it’s a back-handed compliment. Also spurring Pawlett on will be the chance of another high profile tie as yesterday’s third-round in Nyon draw paired Derek McInnes’s team with Spanish side Real Sociedad if they manage to come through this tie.
Robson said: “I used to love it when you go by them and they take you down. It is a great feeling. It is a feeling that you know you are getting the better of people. Peter knows that as well and even though he would roll about for about five minutes, he has been warned to get up and stop going off the pitch.
“Now he gets up. He got bans but he does get a lot of hard kicks. You can see now he jumps up and gets on with it. With the way he plays he is always going to get that but you can now see the maturity in him.
“Peter will be learning that now it is a great feeling getting kicked and brought down when you go past someone. Don’t get me wrong, it can be frustrating when you are going in on goal but take it as a compliment when someone brings you down.
“Unless you are in on goals then yes you can jump up and down and be raging. But he has bags of talent and bags of pace so hopefully we can hold onto him for a bit longer.”
A clash with Real Sociedad would be another money-spinner for Aberdeen, with the first leg schedueld for the Basque country in a fortnight.
The Spanish side, who finished seventh in La Liga last season, played in last year’s Champions League but managed just a single point against Manchester United in group that also contained Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar Donetsk.
They are also set to lose their France international winger Antione Griezmann with Liverpool and Chelsea chasing the £20m-rated player following an impressive showing at the World Cup.
It would certainly be a glamour tie for Derek McInnes’ side if they can see off Groningen in Thursday’s return in the Euroberg Stadium and Robson seems certain they will managed to do that.
Aberdeen dominated the first leg against the Dutch side but weren’t too upset to come away with a goalless draw. After all they failed to score just twice on their travels last season and Robson is convinced they will get a precious away goal in Holland – and a score draw would be enough to take the Scottish side through.
Robson, who has enjoyed Champions League experience with Celtic is certain his current club have the quality of players needed to actually win in Holland. He said: “I think we do have the maturity to go over there and cope. I have played a lot of games in Europe myself and luckily there are a few other boys who have as well.
“The boys have had a couple of games before this one and we have had a wee taste of it.
“We saw how tactical it can be but I think we have some bright players in the side.
“I think they will be better in the second leg and they will play a lot better. You can see the talent and movement in them.
“Groningen is a top side and they have a bigger budget but we gave a good performance and showed with the organisation and talent we have, we can hurt them.
“We can definitely go over there and win the game.”