‘Worse than cup final’
Semi agony for McInnes
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes admitted Saturday’s capitulation against Motherwell at Hampden was far more painful than the agony of last season’s Scottish Cup final defeat to Celtic.
Tom Rogic netted an injury-time winner for the Hoops 11 months ago when the Dons came close to preventing Brendan Rodgers’ side completing a domestic clean sweep.
Saturday’s loss against the Steelmen was a far more onesided affair with Motherwell recording a comfortable
3-0 victory against a lacklustre Dons.
And while going so close last May to Aberdeen’s first Scottish Cup triumph since 1990 hurt McInnes, the nature of Motherwell’s victory was far more galling for the Aberdeen manager.
He said: “There was a feeling the cup final was the culmination of three or four years work.
“This was an opportunity for a new squad to get to their first final.
“This is a new squad and it was an opportunity for us and we came up short.
“We came up short for loads of reasons and there is no joy for us – absolutely nothing.
“There was some sort of pleasure from the final because there was a team with attitude and intent.
“There was that ability and level of performance but that wasn’t the case on Saturday.”
McInnes knows his team have no time to feel sorry for themselves as they bid to prise some positivity from a frustrating campaign by pipping Rangers and Hibernian to second spot.
He said: “There won’t be any hangover for me, the staff and the players.
“We have all got to knuckle down and get on with the job in hand, that is the job we are in.
“We have five games now to try to finish second.
“That will give us some comfort after Saturday and it is in our own hands. “Rangers and Hibs will say the same thing – that it is game on. But the level of performance needs to be better than Saturday for us to finish second.”
McInnes has challenged his players to respond to Saturday’s setback over the closing stretch to the league campaign, starting with their first top six fixture at Kilmarnock this weekend.
He added: “This year we are 16 points ahead of Hearts, three ahead of Hibs and level with Rangers.
“We are giving ourselves a chance to be that second best team in the league again.
“Where you end up in the league is normally a fair reflection of where you are as a club rather than in a cup. Saturday was is different.
“Cups give you that little bit extra and that best chance to be successful.
“However the league position, wherever we finish, will indicate exactly how good we are or how much more we have to do.”
Boss Derek McInnes has challenged his Aberdeen players to defy the sceptics by finishing second in the Premiership.
The Dons have come in for widespread criticism after their 3-0 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Motherwell at Hampden Park on Saturday.
With five league games remaining – and leaders Celtic sure to clinch their seventh successive league title – McInnes’ side is behind second-placed Rangers on goal difference as they prepare to play Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday.
McInnes is looking for his side to finish best of the rest after letting the supporters down at the weekend.
He said: “I hope the determination and resilience which will be needed in the next five games to finish second, hopefully that will be some sort of scant consolation for everyone if we can go and do that.
“It will be a big task. “We have huge games ahead of us and there will be a lot of people doubting if we are capable of doing that.
“So it is important that everyone finds that determination to do exactly that and finish second.”
McInnes is looking for immediate improvement against in-form Killie with what will be a strengthened squad.
Shay Logan, Graeme Shinnie and Kenny McLean were suspended for the semi-final and will return while Gary MackaySteven and Niall McGinn were only fit to start on the bench against the Steelmen, although both got on.
He said: “We owe to ourselves but certainly we owe it to the supporters over the next five games to show a better level of performances than we did on Saturday. Hopefully Gary and Niall will be available for next week.
“At the start of the week we knew both would not be available to start the game and hopefully with the three players back – Kenny, Graeme and Shay – we can have a better level of performances from the team in general.
“But the next five games are very important to us.
“We missed a real opportunity on Saturday.
“I am absolutely gutted for the supporters and I mean that sincerely because I thought they were brilliant in terms of giving us backing.”
“A lot of people doubting if we are capable of doing that”
NO EXCUSES: Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes cuts a frustrated figure during Saturday’s loss to Motherwell
SITTING IT OUT: From left, Aberdeen’s Shay Logan, Kenny McLean and Graeme Shinnie in the stands at Hampden on Saturday