Graeme Shinnie insists that he’s not concerned about the Red Army being vastly outnumbered at Hampden Park tomorrow as it’s what happens on the park that really counts.
Aberdeen demanded 20,000 tickets for the Betfred Cup semi-final against Rangers after successfully arguing for a more sensible kick-off time than the lunchtime one initially imposed on the clubs.
However, they have sold just over half that number while the Ibrox club’s supporters quickly snapped up the additional allocation they received as a result.
Not that the Aberdeen captain believes a numerical advantage in the stands will give Steven Gerrard’s side an advantage on the pitch. It’s the sort of situation Shinnie is familiar with, having skippered Inverness Caledonian Thistle to cup success in the past.
“For me, I’m used to it” he said. “We went to the final at Celtic Park against Aberdeen and they had about 50,000 and we had about eight or ten thousand.
“We played Hearts twice at Easter Road in the semi-finals and they had filled pretty much three stands. It was pretty much an away game for us but it doesn’t play a massive part.
“We got through one of those semi-finals against Hearts, we got beat in the other one so I don’t think it’s a case of much of an advantage. We just hope that however many of our fans are there get right behind us.
“From where Rangers have been, building back up, this is maybe the first year they see as a real opportunity. Their fans will take that into consideration and their expectations will go up a wee bit.
“But we can’t focus on that as we need to turn up on the day and force the issue. We know we want to get to the final and if we don’t it’s disappointing.”
Ryan Jack’s latest return from injury in Rangers’ 0-0 draw against Spartak Moscow in Thursday’s Europa League group game means the current Dons captain looks set to face the one he succeeded in the post. That was when Jack suffered the embarrassment of being replaced by Shinnie for last year’s Scottish Cup final defeat against Celtic after announcing he had agreed to move to Ibrox under freedom of contract.
The Rangers midfielder will expect to be the target of the Aberdeen supporters’ abuse if he does play but Shinnie insists any hostility between the pair will only last as long as it takes to decide the tie.
He added: “There’s not so much gloating but we’ll always have a laugh after the game. Before it and during it, it’s always that rivalry.
“To be fair, we’re good friends. We’ve been at each other’s weddings in the last couple of years and our wives and kids get on. Because of that, out of football we’re friends, but on it, it’s that fierce rivalry and it’s like any other game.
“They’re always good games I enjoy, he’s obviously a tremendous player. I always respected him when he was here.”
There wasn’t much respect shown to Aberdeen in the wake of their only previous meeting this season as Gerrard marked his league debut in charge of the club by claiming Rangers were a “class above” their opponents following the 1-1 draw at Pittodrie back in August.
Like everyone else at Pittodrie, Shinnie has been careful to avoid stoking up any controversy in response to those comments other than to admit: “They were the better team on the day.”
He added: “We weren’t great and it was tough coming off the back of the European game we had. I think he was fuelling the fire and riling a few people up. If he feels like that then so be it, they maybe go into the game a bit over-confident.
“We weren’t as good as we could be. It was always going to be tough to have the same energy levels again but to come out with a 1-1 draw and get the goal as late as we did was massive but if our standards are not high, Rangers will take advantage of it.”