Aberdeen admit 'gruelling' season is taking toll but plan to use Rangers pain for league quest

The Dons plan to bounce back quickly on Wednesday against Livingston

This may be the most “gruelling” season of Graeme Shinnie’s career to date, but the Aberdeen captain knows the Dons can’t feel sorry for themselves after Viaplay Cup heartache.

The Dons went down narrowly 1-0 to Rangers in the Hampden showpiece and the pain of defeat was etched across the faces of their entire squad as they watched the victorious opposition collect their medals and lift the trophy. However, there is no time for soul searching. While Aberdeen have been excellent in cup competitions and picked up a very respectable six points in their Europa Conference League campaign, their form in the Premiership is beneath expectations. Sitting tenth in the table, picking up league points is now the high priority – starting against Livingston at home on Wednesday.

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“I told the boys after the game we need to use the hurt as fuel for the rest of the season,” said Shinnie. “We can’t afford any sort of hangover, we need to turn our league season around. We need to use Sunday’s game to drive us on. For a lot of the boys it’s their first cup final in Scotland so dealing with losing it is a new experience for them. It hurt on Sunday but we have to digest it, forget about it and move on.

Graeme Shinnie has called on his Aberdeen team-mates to avoid a Viaplay Cup hangover.Graeme Shinnie has called on his Aberdeen team-mates to avoid a Viaplay Cup hangover.
Graeme Shinnie has called on his Aberdeen team-mates to avoid a Viaplay Cup hangover.

“There is a long way to go, we have a lot of league games and there’s also the Scottish Cup to go for. The league is where we are focused now so it’s a good thing to be playing again on Wednesday. In football it’s always a good thing when you have a game quickly after a defeat because it’s a chance to get going again. We need to put a run together now, put the league form right and start climbing up the table. We had a good result in Hearts in the league so we need to build on that, get some momentum and get up the league.”

Aberdeen have been dealing with a glut of fixtures as they fight on multiple fronts and Shinnie admitted that the schedule has taken its toll. “This season has been gruelling, to be honest,” the midfielder admitted. “It has been tough, one of the toughest I’ve had in football. We have done a lot of travelling and had a lot of big games – but that’s what it’s like when you’re at the level of playing in European group stages and cup finals. It comes thick and fast and you have to deal with it.

“It has been tougher than playing down south because in the European games you put so much into them. But that’s what you want to be doing as a club, so we have to get used to it and learn how to deal with it. Now we have a run of league games we need to win to get to where we want to in the table.

“We went on a great run last season to get up to third so of course we believe we can do it again. We have had some poor games this season, we’re not going to lie, but we have also had some good performances as well. We know what we’ve got in the squad and the quality we’ve got. But there has been enough talking now, we have to start doing it on the pitch and pick up.”