Aberdeen 'respect Rangers but don't fear them' as optimism grows over Bojan Miovski final chances

Robson knows that success at Aberdeen is ultimately built on silverware

The sense of opportunity seems to override any apprehensions for Barry Robson as he contemplates adding to his adventures at the helm of Aberdeen when the Viaplay Cup final against Rangers rolls around on Sunday afternoon.

It has been well-charted that the 45-year-old played for the Pittodrie side the last time they enjoyed silverware success, a penalty shoot-out win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the 2014 final of the League Cup. That triumph proved the only trophy claimed by Derek McInnes across his seven years in the Aberdeen post, a haul he later confessed fell short as he acknowledged that honours required to be the benchmark for any manager at a club traditionally regarded as the country’s third force, and certainly demanding that status courtesy of the 19 major trophies annexed. Celtic, Rangers, St Johnstone, Hibs, Ross County and Inverness Caledonian Thistle all have done so since Aberdeen’s most recent open-top bus parade.

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A bullish Robson doesn’t shy away from holding himself to the McInnes standard, though. “Yes, definitely,” he said of doing so. But he considers that in his ten months presiding over team affairs at Pittodrie – one of the highs banked with Thursday night’s 2-0 victory at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in the group closer of their Conference League campaign – he has delivered on the other necessary fronts for those entrusted with his responsibilities.

Bojan Miovski during an Aberdeen training session at Cormack Park ahead of facing Rangers.Bojan Miovski during an Aberdeen training session at Cormack Park ahead of facing Rangers.
Bojan Miovski during an Aberdeen training session at Cormack Park ahead of facing Rangers.

“I also think a big thing for Aberdeen is Europe and getting into group stages of competitions,” Robson said. “Going to manage in Europe is something I have always wanted to do, come up against the best teams and top players. But we all know how important it is here as an Aberdeen manager to lift silverware. It has been too long since we last did it. There have been a few clubs who have not lifted trophies. What we have done is put ourselves in a position to do it. It won’t be easy but if we bring our A-game all over the pitch we’ll have a chance. We need to put a plan in place to stop Rangers and try to hurt them, so we’ll be working on that. This team is young and in its infancy so the best is still to come from us. We will get stronger and stronger as time goes on.”

As much as slaying a Frankfurt side fresh from sticking five past Bayern Munich on their own patch, Robson’s belief in his players surely is not unconnected to his record against the Ibrox side as a manager reading two wins, a draw and defeat. And the fact that Bojan Miovoski looks set to shake off a hamstring problem to lead the line against an opponent his attributes have proved problematic for. Robson “optimistic” the North Macedonian will make the showpiece. “It is not something I’m worried about,” he said. “We have shown we can defend well in big games but are also capable of going after teams too. It’s an old cliche but we have to make sure we’re at our best all over the pitch because we are underdogs coming up against a very good team in Rangers. We respect Rangers but we don’t fear them. We have played well against them this season so will take confidence from that.

“They should be confident because they have played really well against some top teams. The good thing for us going into the cup final is we’ve played a lot of big, big games away from home this season. We’ve been to big stadiums against big teams, so that experience helps. When you play in big grounds with big atmospheres you learn to handle it.”