Aberdeen have landed lucky thanks to the absence of other big clubs from the Scottish Premiership, according to Dundee United boss Csaba Laszlo.
The Dons have been Scotland’s second force behind Celtic in recent seasons, but Laszlo, whose side face the Derek McInnes’ men in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup at Pittodrie on Sunday, thinks that they have benefited from not having to face – at various times – Rangers, Hearts, Hibs and United.
All four of those teams have been missing from the top flight at some stage, with the Tangerines still struggling to get out of the Championship.
Laszlo, speaking to The Courier, said: “Aberdeen have made a huge step forward but, to be honest with you, I don’t want ever to talk about other clubs and how fantastic they are.
“You have seen that Aberdeen in the last four years really have not had an opponent, just Celtic.
“You know that Hearts have struggled, Hibernian have struggled and Dundee United have struggled.
“Rangers were off the map and down.
“I am talking there about one, two, three, four big clubs which were the same size as Aberdeen, who have stabilised to be second.
“OK, Aberdeen have used this time.
“Now Rangers are not in the best shape but they are still fighting for the second position.
“They came from very deep and at the moment I think Hearts are also growing, as are Hibs, so the fight is back on for Aberdeen to be just second.”
Laszlo, who managed the Jam Tarts between mid-2008 and early 2010, added: “I want to tell you that, yes, Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier League in the last five years are very strong and have come back definitely in this way as they were in the past.
“But it is with the absence of Dundee United, Hearts, Hibernian and Rangers.”
The United boss confirmed Tam Scobbie will miss Sunday’s cup clash because of injury, but William Edjenguele is available.
He added: “I would say Scobbie is struggling so is a no for Sunday but William can sit on the bench.”
James Keatings will be having surgery next Monday, while Scott Fraser should begin training in three or four weeks’ time.