Craig Brown is determined to hand Aberdeen fans the perfect Christmas present this year – their team sitting top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Victory over Inverness tonight would allow the Dons to leapfrog Celtic to the summit, ahead of the champion’ own game against Hearts 24 hours later.
Having struggled at the wrong end of the table in previous seasons, Aberdeen manager Brown is now relishing the challenge of ensuring Aberdeen remain one of the top forces this term. He said: “It would be great for the fans to find their team, and our team, at the top of the league. That would be my wish for them for Christmas but we’ve got to win to ensure that we’re there and it will be a very difficult game. Inverness will be feeling the same, it’s a great chance for them too.
“At the weekend, we were saying if we could win the game, we would go second. We managed to overcome that challenge and now there’s another one. These are the kind of challenges we thrive on and that the players should thrive on.”
Brown has a number of injury concerns ahead of the visit of the Highlanders and is wary of the threat posed by a side who defeated Celtic at the weekend.
He said: “Even with our full- strength squad, Inverness constitute a real challenge. They’re playing very well, they have been to Glasgow and won at Ibrox and Celtic Park this season so another ‘trophy’ would be a victory at Pittodrie. We intend to make sure they don’t get that but it will be a hard game. We always go out thinking we can win a game.
“Even with a depleted squad I think people will acknowledge we’ve got good resources and it’s a great chance for the guys who come in to stand up to the challenge. It’s a great incentive to win the game and to go to the top but I don’t want to build the expectation up too much. There is a danger when there is expectation that we don’t fulfil that. So what we’ll do is go out and try our best to win this football match, as we do in every game.”
On the prospect of bolstering his squad in January, Brown said: “We are always on the look-out, we haven’t closed the door on the possible acquisition of players. To be fair, we’d have to consider saying to one or two that they could go. We are looking, believe me. We will never stop trying to improve the team.”
Meanwhile Terry Butcher wants his to side forget their momentous win over Celtic at Parkhead on Saturday to focus solely on Aberdeen. Billy McKay’s second-half strike against the champions was enough to give Caley their first league win at Celtic Park and Butcher’s first victory as a manager in the east end of Glasgow. A win for the fifth-placed visitors could take them level on points with Neil Lennon’s side but Caley Thistle manager Butcher is looking only at getting his players in the right frame of mind.
He said: “We are looking forward to the Aberdeen game now and we want to make sure all those thoughts about Celtic have gone. It is nice to think back about Celtic and what we have achieved but that’s history now. Sometimes when you have a big match against someone like Aberdeen at Pittodrie very quickly, you have to re-focus very quickly and make sure that you give the match 100 per cent concentration.”