ABERDEEN manager Derek McInnes understands the clamour for his team to mount a title challenge – but he is adamant that no-one inside Pittodrie will be looking further ahead than their New Year’s Day clash with St Johnstone.
The Dons closed the gap on leaders Celtic to two points when they beat Inverness 1-0 on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Scottish Premiership victory.
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That prompted talk of a title among Aberdeen fans and the media – but McInnes is not falling into the trap.
“We’re well aware of supporters getting excited and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that,” he said. “And I feel that for people in the media, everyone is wanting a challenge, whether it’s from us or anyone else, and there are a few teams up there. I think everyone would love that scenario.
“I totally understand the comment and coverage, but for us it is really just being professional.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves. Nobody will be allowed to get ahead of themselves here.
“The players are honest as the day is long. They have a focus and a concentration, just one game at a time. If we were to get ahead of ourselves, and we won’t, then a slap in the face is just around the corner. It makes the game more difficult and every game is a challenge.
“What we have got going for us is a real honesty and a commitment to our job here from the players, and I think the support recognise that.”
When asked whether he was surprised to be trailing by just two points at the turn of the year, McInnes again shifted the focus purely on to his team as they seek to improve on last season’s third-place finish.
“We are just delighted we have managed to improve on where we were last year,” he said. “It’s only by a couple of points so far. The challenge for us is to keep improving as we go into 2015, to try to get a better points tally than last season. That is a big ask.
“This time last year Celtic were way ahead and we are just delighted we’re ahead of where we were last year, playing with confidence and, hopefully, we will finish the season strongly.”
Meeting the media ahead of tomorrow’s St Johnstone game, McInnes also took time yesterday to reflect on the positive news that both winger Jonny Hayes and defender Andrew Considine had signed new deals that will keep them at the club until 2018 and 2017 respectively.
“Both players have been consistent performers, they play week in, week out, and I think over the course of my time working with the boys they’ve been a pleasure to work alongside,” explained the manager.
“Andy has been here a long time. He’s probably enjoying it as much as he has done, he’s playing as well as he has done and he has certainly earned his new deal. Jonny was keen to extend his deal and again that was great news. It’s a good bit of business all round.
“I think it gives everyone a lift. Clearly the players are happy at their work. They enjoy it here and so when they commit to longer term deals it’s a boost for everyone.
“We’ll try to deal with a few other things in the coming weeks but our focus now returns to the coming two games.”
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