Derek McInnes insists it is time Aberdeen’s players prove they are the second best team in Scotland by ending a 14-year wait for a league win at Celtic Park tomorrow, rather than relying on a favour from Hibernian.
Neil Lennon’s side’s chance of clinching the runners-up spot disappeared with their Edinburgh derby defeat in midweek and a home win at Easter Road tomorrow would also end Rangers’ hopes.
However, the Dons manager doesn’t want to depend on clinching a fourth successive second-place finish by default at a venue which has been the least productive for the club since long before his appointment.
You have to go back to October 2004, when Jimmy Calderwood was in charge for the last time Aberdeen returned from Parkhead with maximum points from the fixture.
In fact that was also the last occasion they took any points at all from a visit to the east end of Glasgow as the Dons head back there after 25 straight defeats in league since then.
McInnes, pictured, has steered them to success at Celtic Park in the Scottish Cup but now he wants the current side to show they have what it takes to finish the job by their own efforts in the Premiership.
“I’m only thinking about winning our game to be honest as myself and the players can’t be at Celtic Park thinking ‘I hope Hibs win their game’, claimed the Aberdeen manager.
“I always feel that, if you are too dependent on other people, then you don’t get what you set out to do.
“I think there are two mindsets as you either go out and do it for yourself or sit back and expect to be disappointed.
“I am going down with the mindset that we have to win the match and the players will be the same.
“If we have that approach then, hopefully, that will get us the result to reach our objective regardless of what happens at Easter Road.
“Qualifying for Europe was our first objective and we have done that even if it has taken a bit longer than we would have hoped.
“When it comes, it is as sweet as it has always been to get that European place but there are plenty of gains and advantages for finishing second again and that’s what we want to do.”
They will have to do it without two influential midfielders as Niall McGinn has a groin strain and Ryan Christie isn’t allowed to play against his parent club.
McInnes will also be without key defender Scott McKenna as the youngster, who won accolades for Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Goal of the Season for his 40-yard effort against Kilmarnock in January in the club’s awards ceremony on Thursday, is suspended.
That is likely to put more pressure on goalkeeper Joe Lewis, who is looking for his first clean sheet in a game against Celtic at the tenth time of asking.
The toughest to take was conceding Tom Rogic’s last-minute winner in last season’s Scottish Cup final as Celtic clinched the domestic treble, but Lewis isn’t banking on Aberdeen’s opponents being distracted by the chance to repeat that feat against Motherwell next weekend.
“Whoever is playing will be fighting for the three points and their place in the Scottish Cup final” said Lewis. “I have no anticipation that Celtic will take their foot off the pedal at all. I don’t think that will happen. We will have to be at our very best to get the points.
“But if you are not inspired by going to Parkhead with a full house and second place to play for, then you’re in the wrong job.
“We have to make the right decisions on the pitch and, if we can do that and be at our best, then I think we have a decent chance of getting the result we want.”