KENNY McLean has vowed to show Aberdeen fans why Derek McInnes forked out £300,000 for the midfielder in January after finally breaking his Dons scoring duck.
The Pittodrie side grabbed a stunning success in Croatia this week when they hammered Rijeka 3-0 in the first leg of their Europa League second qualifying round.
Aberdeen overcame both the heat and Rijeka’s hugely impressive home European record when they dismantled the Croats.
Former St Mirren midfielder McLean put the icing on the cake when the sub volleyed home the third goal, putting the tie surely beyond any doubt ahead of this week’s return leg at Pittodrie.
And the goal had huge significance for McLean, who admits he has yet to hit his true form for the Premiership runners-up since his move from Paisley at the start of the year.
Despite netting seven goals last season for an eventually-relegated St Mirren side before the new year, he failed to replicate his goal scoring form for McInnes’ men, prompting Dons fans to question his sizeable transfer fee.
Getting that goal makes a big difference. It was a bit of relief and it takes the pressure off meKenny McLean
But he is convinced those supporters will start seeing the best of him now because he finally feels settled after his move.
McLean said: “I think coming into Aberdeen in January was difficult for me. I didn’t think it would be so hard to get into the team and get settled quickly. I’ve done okay, but I’m not happy with that. I’ve set myself high standards and I don’t think I quite got there last season.
“I feel very settled now, comfortable with the boys and on the pitch. So I think this season could be good for myself. Getting that goal makes a big difference. It was a bit of relief and it takes the pressure off me.
“There was a lot of responsibility at St Mirren with the situation we were in. But coming here where the expectations are so much bigger, it was tough. I knew Aberdeen were a big club, but when you play at Pittodrie with maybe 17,000 at the game, the expectations are very high.
“But we also expect a lot from ourselves too. We know how good we are and the manager expects a lot from us too. I think we showed that against Rijeka.
“Obviously, a bit of pressure can come with the transfer fee, but it’s something I was happy to take on. I knew Aberdeen had spent a lot of money on me in January, but I think I’m only now just finding my feet and I am hoping to repay the faith they’ve showed in me. Hopefully this will be a big season for me.”
Aberdeen turned in one of their finest displays in Europe since their 1980s heyday with a superb performance against the team that drew with Europa League winners Sevilla last season and defeated Stuttgart, Feyenoord and Standard Liege. But McLean is adamant there is still work to done this week.
He pointed out: “We knew all about their European record from last season and also about their league campaign too. They are a very good side. We’ve came here with a game plan and we have stuck to it.
“The manager set out what we had to do and we did it to the letter. We’ve got a good lead, but there is still a lot to do. They showed in the first 15 minutes what a good team they are when they really came out the blocks and had a go at us.
“But after that, we nullified their threat and we were pretty comfortable. We defended really well with our back five and right though the team we were superb. Everyone played their part, but there is still the second leg to come.
“The third goal makes a big difference, but we can’t think the tie is over. We’ve seen teams come back from 3-0 down before and go through. We have to prepare and be ready and do the same job again.”