ABERDEEN have made their best ever start to a season and Derek McInnes insists ending it in a similarly successful fashion depends on the club’s supporters turning out in large numbers as much for tonight’s match against Hamilton Accies as last Saturday’s defeat of Celtic. That result made it six wins in a row at the start of the campaign, surpassing the record of the last Dons side to go on and lift the league title during the glory days under Sir Alex Ferguson in season 1984-85.
The weekend win in front of a full house at Pittodrie also opens up the chance to move five points clear of the defending champions when they make up their game in hand at the same venue this evening.
Their manager admits the noise generated by the Red Army in the aftermatch of Paul Quinn’s late winner against Celtic was as loud as it has been since he replaced Craig Brown in the job in the spring of 2013.
His main concern now is making sure his players get that intensity of backing in every home game and McInnes will pay particular scrutiny to how full the stands are when he walks to the dugout prior to kick-off.
After all, Pittodrie was full for last month’s Europa League visit from Kairat Almaty yet three days later the attendance was 11,305 when Kilmarnock came calling for the first Premiership game. The Aberdeen manager is steering clear of rash pedictions regarding his club’s chances of ending a 31-year wait to win the title but he does believe their chances can only be boosted by increased numbers through the turnstiles.
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“The noise levels when Paul Quinn scored and then again at the end [against Celtic] was a first, really. I hadn’t heard our fans like that before,” he said. “The fans have been great but the noise levels were above anything else so far. It shows what can be done and we want more of it. The supporters have given us great backing and turn up in numbers, but there will be people out there who planned to go to the Celtic game but maybe not Hamilton.
“What I would say to them is that if they can afford to come to both then I’d urge them to come along. It’s important we do have that level of support again against Hamilton. If they are still wavering I would ask them to come along and stay with us. The team here is deserving of the support and the support are deserving of the team.
“There is an appreciation there and the players would love to run out to a bigger crowd than you’d normally expect. It definitely helps when you play in front of a bigger crowd.
“We will never bridge the gap with Celtic money-wise but getting bigger crowds might help us get a player in January that we might otherwise wouldn’t have been able to sign. Getting supporters through the gate adds weight to everything you’re doing.”
With the exception of long-term injury victim Mark Reynolds, McInnes has a full complement of players to choose from tonight including Jonny Hayes as Aberdeen are appealing the midfielder’s red card from Saturday.
Referee Craig Thomson sent the player off 18 minutes from the end of the 2-1 win following a challenge on Celtic’s Michael Lustig, much to the bemusement of the Aberdeen manager and especially Hayes. In fact McInnes has revealed that the Irishman was so incensed by the decision that Hayes himself was willing to fork out the £1,000 required to launch the appeal.
“He actually came to me afterwards and offered to pay the money for it himself,” McInnes said. “That’s how sure he is that he shouldn’t have been sent off.
“But we were always going to appeal it anyway, that was always the club’s intention. We are supporting Jonny because we feel it was an injustice and of course I told him the club are paying. I don’t even think it’s a foul. He’s won the ball. If you take the speed element out of it then every other aspect of it doesn’t come into play under the rules.
“There was restraint, he went to ground early, won the ball and his foot was flat. To be fair to the referee, I can see why he made the decision because of the angle he was at.
“He would have been justified in thinking the tackle was more than it was, but if he saw if from the other side then he’d look at it differently. I hope common sense can prevail.”
McInnes and Hayes will find that out on Thursday, but if he is unsuccessful the midfielder can expect a suspension that will keep him out of the league visit to Tynecastle on Sunday and Wednesday week’s League Cup tie at Easter Road.