McInnes: We won’t lower our ex­pec­ta­tions just be­cause Rangers are back

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FRONT PAGE - NEIL CAMERON

DEREK McINNES, the Aberdeen man­ager, be­lieves Sun­day’s highly an­tic­i­pated first meet­ing for four years be­tween his club and Rangers is a bat­tle for sec­ond place in the Lad­brokes Premier­ship, be­cause no team can live with Celtic.

The Pit­to­drie club have main­tained a si­lence in the face of dec­la­ra­tions made by Dave King, the Ibrox chair­man, and most of the play­ers that the newly pro­moted club should at worst fin­ish in the top two this sea­son. This has been a po­si­tion Aberdeen have made their own in re­cent years and while McInnes (be­low) be­lieves the spend­ing power of Celtic makes it next to im­pos­si­ble for any­one to stop their charge to­wards a sixth suc­ces­sive ti­tle, he knows the run­ners-up spot is up for grabs even with Rangers back. McInnes put for­ward the case that Aberdeen have earned the right to be con­sid­ered the best hope Scot­tish foot­ball has of any sort of ti­tle race. “We will try to be as com­pet­i­tive as we can once again,” said McInnes. “I said at the start of the last few sea­sons that it would take Celtic to have a poor sea­son by their stan­dards to al­low any­one else to win the league. Ronny Deila’s Celtic team ac­cu­mu­lated enough points for them to win the cham­pi­onship in pre­vi­ous cam­paigns.

“They were just be­yond what we could do, to be hon­est. We had an un­beaten club record within that, we have had great un­beaten runs, we have ac­cu­mu­lated the most points out­with the Old Firm and we still fell short.

“I still be­lieve that over the course of a sea­son money does have an im­pact. It doesn’t over 90 min­utes and that’s why we think this is a game [against Rangers] we can win, and we feel as if we can beat Celtic as well.

“But it will take a drop in stan­dards in Celtic’s league form to al­low oth­ers to get in­volved in the ti­tle race. We have been the one team when Rangers weren’t in the league – and peo­ple were moan­ing about this and that – who put up a fight and made them work for it.

“Whether that is us this sea­son re­mains to be seen. There are other good sides in the league, but we cer­tainly don’t want to drop our stan­dards. We want to stay where we have been.”

McInnes has been far from im­pressed by the per­ceived no­tion that Rangers, he won ev­ery do­mes­tic medal with them as a player, would au­to­mat­i­cally be bet­ter than Aberdeen af­ter four years in the lower leagues.

“I think peo­ple will not prob­a­bly be look­ing at us as much, and the onus will be on Rangers to be of­fer­ing that chal­lenge,” he said. “That is the per­cep­tion of other peo­ple.

“Within our own club, it’s all about try­ing to stay com­pet­i­tive. It is all about hav­ing a squad which can help us do that in the cups and league. We dropped two points to In­ver­ness when they scored a great goal and if that point be­comes three, and I know it’s all ifs and buts, we are sit­ting in sec­ond place.

“It’s not been as poor a start as peo­ple have been mak­ing out. Draws feel like a de­feat here. That’s the big change over the last few sea­sons. There is noth­ing wrong with that. We ac­cept the re­spon­si­bil­ity to strive for bet­ter.”

Aberdeen will most likely be without Johnny Hayes. The winger’s sea­son has been dis­rupted with a ham­string prob­lem which flared up dur­ing the warm-up of Thurs­day’s 1-0 Bet­fred League Cup quar ter-fi­nal win over St John­stone.

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