Derek McInnes couldn’t have asked for a more positive reaction to the news he had no interest in swapping the manager’s position at Pittodrie for the one at Ibrox than his players delivered just over 24 hours later.
Yes, Motherwell’s defending would have shamed a Sunday League team at times but the Dons exploited that with exactly the sort of ruthlessness McInnes has been expecting and demanding from his team this season.
Adam Rooney’s hat trick led the 7-2 demolition of their opponents with Andrew Considine, Jonny Hayes and Peter Pawlett also contributing, but the goal of the night, and contender for best of the season, was Ryan Christie’s sublime effort curled in with the outside of the left foot.
That made it two in two appearances for the midfielder since joining on loan from Celtic last month, as many as James Maddison contributed during his loan period at Pittodrie before returning to Norwich City in January.
Of course one of those was a spectacular last-minute winner against Rangers, the bitter rivals Aberdeen now lead by three points and a vastly superior goal difference having trailed them by seven just before Christmas.
Whoever eventually takes charge of the Ibrox club will do well to finish above the Dons if they can maintain their recent form and Rooney for one believes they are ready to repay McInnes’ loyalty with a strong finish to the season.
“We’re doing our best to keep him aren’t we?” claimed Rooney. “We know the gaffer really enjoys it here,as do the players. I think you can see that from the number of us who’ve signed new contracts recently. It’s a good place to be and hopefully we can keep building.
“The gaffer’s always on at us – when we’re winning games 2-0 he wants us to go on and be more ruthless. Celtic do it nearly every week but he wants us to be more like that.
“It’s something we need to get into our game, make sure once we’re in front make sure we don’t get too comfortable, sit back and be happy with the win, we need to get the goal difference up. We’ve threatened to do just that a couple of times this season. and maybe not taken the chances we could’ve but unfortunately for Motherwell they were on the wrong end of it.
“We’re on a good run at the moment, That’s eight out of the last nine we’ve won. The only points dropped have been away at Celtic so we’re confident going into games.
“We knew with the game in hand this was a big week for us as we could go three points clear and get into the next round of the cup and thankfully we’ve done that.”
Rooney’s hat trick took his tally to 16 for the season but McInnes revealed after the match that he had been ready to rest the Irishman and start with either Jayden Stockley or Miles Storey instead.
The sudden recollection of Rooney’s scoring record against Motherwell changed his mind and that now stands at ten goals in just nine matches against the Fir Park side since signing on at Pittodrie three years ago.
As if heading to Celtic Park on Saturday wasn’t tough enough for the Steelmen, who also had manager Mark McGhee sent to the stand by referee Alan Muir on Wednesday, they return to Pittodrie to face their nemesis in three weeks time.
In the meantime Aberdeen are at Rugby Park on Sunday with a chance to extend their advantage over Rangers before they kick-off later the same day at Dens Park and the omens are good.
They have beaten Kilmarnock 12 times in a row and it stands at 9-1 in their favour from the two previous meetings this season but the good news for the Ayrshire side is that Rooney has only scored six in eight games against them.
But no one at Aberdeen is taking anything for granted and Rooney added: “We’ve had a good record against Kilmarnock over the past few years but it’ll be difficult.
“Their manager has stepped away this week so we won’t know what sort of team we’ll be facing but we’ll go there with confidence high but we won’t take anything for granted.
“Everyone has to work to stay in the team because there are plenty of people trying to get into that starting eleven. Hopefully we can go and get the win, whether it’s 1-0 or 7-0.”