The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Gartenmann insists PAOK gameplan can work for Dons in Celtic showdown


Stefan Gartenmann believes Aberdeen are ready to smash a 35-year hoodoo today and complete an away Old Firm league double.

The Dons travel to Glasgow to face the champions after a battling midweek 2-2 draw in Greece against PAOK.

But, despite winning plaudits for their display, they were still eliminated from the Europa Conference League with two games to go against HJK Helsinki and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Aberdeen have been poor after their European games this season having lost to Kilmarnock and Hibs and drawn with St Johnstone.

But they also collected a superb win at Ibrox that ended up costing Michael Beale his job earlier this season.

You have to go back to 1988-89 when Aberdeen last did the double in Glasgow with victories at Parkhead and Ibrox in the league in the same campaign.

But Danish defender Gartenmann is convinced the current team can carve their own slice of history after admitting they need to start performing in the league.

He said: “If we want to go where we all think we can go, those are the games wherewehav­etoshowhow­farwehave come.

“I think it’s been a while since Aberdeen have won away at both Celtic and Rangers in one season. So we are going to give everything we have.

“Hopefully, Celtic are a wounded animal on Sunday, but I am sure they will do everything to bounce back.

“But we can build on this and gain a lot of confidence from the PAOK match. I’m certain we can gain something from the game. I think in some ways it will be a very similar game. We need to play the same way and not let the surroundin­gs get to us.

“I think we are capable of that and we showed that at Ibrox. We showed that away to Eintracht and we showed that in Greece, so why not at Celtic? We look at the bigger teams and for them, playing in Europe is not an excuse. We want to get to a place where that’s not a reason anymore.

“Perhaps we could use it as an excuse once or twice, but we can’t keep going like this. If you want to be a top team, you have to be able to bounce back from a European game.

“And, yes, we have not been good at that in the past few instances. We want to show we are becoming a big team.”

Gartenmann, who is on loan from Midtjyllan­d, admits he was frustrated with the Dons’ exit from Europe.

But he’s convinced Aberdeen have picked up plenty from their European experience­s this term.

He said: “Obviously, the goal from the beginning was to qualify, but we also need to learn and we learned the hard way during the first three games that if you are not there in every single game in every situation you won’t do well in Europe.

“We have learned some harsh lessons in Europe. But getting a draw this week shows we have matured as a team and we have taken big steps in just a few weeks.

“So, yes it’s annoying that we are not playing for anything from now on, but we still want to show Aberdeen belong in Europe and show that we belong here at this level.

“Finally, we got the point we deserved in Europe because many of the games we have played there, we had the feeling we deserved more.

“We executed the game plan to not perfection, but close to.

“Of course it was a crazy atmosphere, but it’s nothing we haven’t experience­d before. We have played at Frankfurt and Rangers away so I don’t think the atmosphere got to us. It’s something we need to get used to and we are already used to it now.”

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