Willie Miller expects long Aberdeen run in Europe

Derek McInnes: Earned trust. Picture: SNS
Derek McInnes: Earned trust. Picture: SNS
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WILLIE Miller is convinced that Aberdeen can look forward to an extended stay in Europe as they have similar qualities to the team with which he enjoyed so much success in the 1980s.

Miller captained the Dons to European Cup Winners’ Cup success against Real Madrid in 1983, then defeated Hamburg to lift the European Super Cup.

They have what’s needed to cope with whatever is thrown at them in Kazakhstan

Willie Miller

The club’s former manager and director is not rash enough to expect Derek McInnes’ side to emulate those triumphs in the modern era, but he is impressed enough with the progress made under the current manager to predict they can go on to significantly revive their reputation on the continent.

Miller believes the way they saw off the challenge of HNK Rijeka last week means they should certainly cope with Europa League third-round opponents FC Kairat in Almaty on Thursday, and an eventual place in the Europa League group stages is a distinct possibility.

He said:”No one should underplay how well Aberdeen did to knock the Croatians out of the Europa League.

“Rijeka’s recent history in the competition showed they were quality opponents. For Aberdeen to go there and win 3-0 was a massive achievement and the way Rijeka played at Pittodrie underlined that.

“They were a classy outfit who were technically very good and knocked the ball about with confidence.

“Many a Scottish side would have collapsed when they went 2-0 down but not this Aberdeen team. They have an abundance of players capable of digging themselves out of a hole by scoring when they need to.

“I also have to commend the Dons defending in the first half as it was right up there with some of the defensive stands I was part of with the Dons in the ’80s. It’s why I am convinced they have what’s needed to cope with whatever might be thrown at them in Kazakhstan too.”

Miller is certain Aberdeen’s improvement both domestically and abroad is down to the trust the players have in their manager and, just as importantly, the supporters have equally bought into what McInnes is doing.

He added: “Aberdeen’s chances of going far in Europe are helped by the fact their fans have total trust in Derek McInnes. That was shown during the 2-2 draw against Rijeka at Pittodrie last week that made sure they got through.

“The manager adopted a pretty defensive approach for a home game and he was right to do so.There are times when you need to do that if you are going to progress in Europe. It’s not an arena for the usual ‘let’s have a right go’ Scottish mentality. It requires calmness, patience and a high standard of organisation, especially when you have three away goals in the bag.

“But I have watched and played in European games at Pittodrie when the fans became very agitated if Aberdeen weren’t having a go. That got through to the players and made things more difficult for them but there was none of that last week. They trusted McInnes was doing what was right to get the result they wanted.

“The manager has earned the right to that with his record at Aberdeen in the domestic game and he’s starting to make his mark in Europe now, too.”