‘Worse than cup fi­nal’

Semi agony for McInnes

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANNY LAW

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

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