The Dons manager accepts that not many people outwith the Pittodrie club believe they can see off the challenge of Rangers for runners-up spot in the Premiership this season.
However, he was delighted with the way his men proved they had the mental toughness needed to win the midweek penalty shootout against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in their Scottish Cup replay and now he expects them to produce the same qualities in the remaining Premiership games and clinch the runners-up spot for a fourth successive season.
He said: “There was a lot of people finger pointing, putting the pressure on Aberdeen as a club and especially on the players. There was pressure on them in the build-up, pressure during the game, pressure when they went a goal down and pressure in the shootout, but every one of them stood up to it.
“It was really pleasing that they had the confidence, the calmness, determination and ability to get through that tie.
“Now the target is go into the semi-final on the back of decent form as people had started to discount us in the league. Celtic and Rangers are huge favourites to finish in first and second place in the table and I do think given the differences in finances they should be occupied by them.
“But we are proud of the fact that we have finished second in the last few years, even though ideally we would like to finish first.
“In the league we are in it is difficult to do that but we feel we are a team that is capable of finishing second again. We will fight tooth and nail to try to make sure that we do that again this season.”
Dundee manager Neil McCann claims that St Johnstone counterpart Tommy Wright lodged a complaint against him to the SFA, which Wright vigorously denied last night.
McCann, above, has vowed to defend himself against an “excessive misconduct” charge when he attends a hearing on 29 March 29 following his clash with Saints goalkeeper Zander Clark.
He has denied slapping Clark last weekend following his side’s 4-0 home defeat, claiming he had caught the substitute while trying to free himself from the close confrontation.
McCann said: “Tommy Wright, I believe, has made a complaint against me to the SFA. I think it’s about me putting contact on Zander. But if anyone watches the footage, they will see who initiates the physical contact, and that’s all I’m prepared to say.”
McCann is demanding a major improvement at Pittodrie after admitting they got the “fundamentals” wrong in the Tayside derby, listing application, tempo, work ethic, a lack of aggression along with technical deficiencies.
He added: “What I’m looking for clearly is a huge reaction, not just a reaction, but a huge one, because they let themselves down, let the club down, let the fans down, let me down, and I was part of that as well. I was part of that team performance.
“It was an embarrassing performance. I didn’t mince any words and I don’t retract any of those.”