Mark Reynolds: mental strength helps Dons handle expectations
Mark Reynolds believes his Aberdeen team-mates have the mental toughness to cope with recent criticism, even if some of those dishing it out could do with a reality check.
The Dons defender happily accepts the demands made of players at Pittodrie as he has been one of those who have helped increase them by recently restoring the club’s credibility in Scottish football.
After all, Reynolds has seen the side go from struggling in the bottom six to title challengers and trophy winners since signing from Sheffield Wednesday four years ago.
They are also regularly qualifying for European football again and beating Hamilton Accies this afternoon would move them to within four points of second-placed Rangers who have still to play Celtic before the winter break.
Despite that, Derek McInnes’ players have taken a bit of a kicking from the pundits recently despite losing only two of their last seven league games, and one of those was at Ibrox.
That has been an over-reaction as far as Reynolds is concerned, but he insists they are strong enough to take the stick as it shows just how seriously the threat from Aberdeen is taken again now.
“When I came to Pittodrie the club was just trying to achieve top-six football and that was the aim,” said Reynolds.“Now, we’re used to being in the top six and to European football but the nature of the game is that people have long memories.
“They remember Aberdeen were winning European trophies, being in cup finals and challenging Celtic and Rangers in the league.
“We just try and do the best we can and in recent years I believe we’ve produced a decent level of performance.
“We’ve been challenging at the top end of the league, we won the League Cup, been in the final of that competition again and in Europe every season.
“We feel we’re going in the right direction and when the results are poor we can expect criticism. It’s one of the ‘perks’ of the job when you go to a big team and one that’s a success and the history we have.
“When you get a sticky spell it suddenly becomes gloom and doom with people saying the wheels have come off but the manager has put together a changing room with characters who can take it on the chin and bounce back.
“We’ve never concerned ourselves with that and in training this week we’ve looked sharp and all we can do is answer on the park against Hamilton.”
Aberdeen have won all four meetings with Accies at Pittodrie without conceding a single goal since McInnes took over as manager and he is determined to extend that run this afternoon, but a defeat at Hamilton in October means he won’t take anything for granted.
“It seems to be tougher away from home. I think we have beaten them every time at Pittodrie since they came back up. We have a strong record against them but we are well aware of how competitive they are,” said McInnes.
Accies’ Darian MacKinnon, meanwhile has expressed his growing frustration with their form and insists they need to finish the year with four points from six.
The 3-0 defeat by Premiership leaders Celtic – who played most of the second half with ten men after midfielder Callum McGregor was sent off for picking up two yellow cards – left Martin Canning’s side with one win in 15, with eight draws in that run.
MacKinnon stressed the importance of finishing 2016 on a high. The midfielder said: “It was Christmas and we were beaten 3-0 by ten men so we can’t be happy with that.
“You don’t want to keep on going on with this drawing and losing because it is starting to get annoying. I am really getting annoyed with it.
“You just want to start picking up points because it is really frustrating.
“You don’t enjoy that. You can’t keep saying everyone is playing well, you are putting in a good performance, because we are getting beat and drawing games. We really need to start picking up.
“It is mistakes that are killing us all the time, it is really starting to p*** us off.
“We really need four points out of six, the next two games. We need at least a draw up there and we need to beat Motherwell.
“We don’t want to get cast adrift with this winter break coming up so hopefully we can get a few points on the board.”
MacKinnon is hoping a healthy crowd at Pittodrie will give Accies a lift.
“They are a good side but it is probably an ideal game for us, after a big crowd against Celtic,” he said.
“Sometimes you have a wee dip after big games so it will be another big game and we really need to take something.”