Derek McInnes hopes Aberdeen can vindicate Sir Alex Ferguson prediction

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes hopes his players will vindicate the prediction of Sir Alex Ferguson when they face Celtic in the Betfred Cup final.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes, right, is facing up to Celtic counterpart Brendan Rodgers in a cup final for the third time. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

Sir Alex, the most famed predecessor of McInnes, delivered some words of comfort to the Aberdeen boss two years ago after the Dons lost 3-0 to Celtic at the same stage.

The former Scotland and Manchester United manager told McInnes his players would be better-placed to compete in finals the more they play at Hampden.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Dons were soon back at the national stadium, beating Hibernian in a William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final and pushing Celtic all the way in their second final of the season.

Former Aberdeen and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Aberdeen suffered more disappointment at Hampden last campaign when they lost to Motherwell in the Scottish Cup semi-final but they reached their fourth final under McInnes by beating Rangers at the national stadium last month.

The Dons boss hopes his growing Scotland contingent will also feel like the Glasgow ground is a home from home.

McInnes said: “I always remember Sir Alex saying to me after we lost the 3-0 game against Celtic, that only by revisiting surroundings that players start to feel at home and be more capable of delivering a performance.

“He said he had umpteen international players, players who had played 400-500 top-flight games, who didn’t turn up in a final. He said sometimes it can happen but by revisiting them you get more familiar with your surroundings.

“It has helped us being here so often in the last wee while. It doesn’t give you any guarantees or real advantage on the day because you have to do all the things we spoke about but I certainly think it doesn’t do any harm.

“Even my players involved in the national team recently and training here for a few days and being involved in a couple of positive results – [Scott] McKenna, [Graeme] Shinnie, [Michael] Devlin for a spell, Gary Mackay-Steven – all that helps because we know Celtic have that.

“It’s good to see that we feel as a club that we kind of belong here and feel at home here.”

McInnes won his first final in 2014 as Aberdeen beat Inverness in the League Cup at Celtic Park, and he is proud that his players continue to be consistently there or thereabouts in the latter stages of tournaments.

“Prior to coming in we had only won one trophy in 20-odd years, so that suggests that, while it’s important, it’s not easy,” he said.

“At least now we are giving ourselves a chance. No other club outwith Celtic have been in more semi-finals and finals than us, or competed in Europe as much as us, in recent seasons. I’m proud of that.”