Dons boss McInnes calling for blend of fire and ice against Rangers

Lewis Ferguson
Lewis Ferguson

Boss Derek McInnes today called for the Reds to find the perfect blend in the league showdown with rivals Rangers.

Aberdeen will tonight face the Gers at a packed-out Pittodrie.

Victory would leap the Dons over the Ibrox club into second place in the Premiership.
McInnes will demand his side deliver a balance between aggression and calm heads in what is traditionally a fiery encounter.

There have been red cards in two of this season’s three Aberdeen-Rangers face-offs.

Rangers Alfredo Morelos is red carded for an off the ball incident with Scott McKenna

Light Blues striker Alfredo Morelos was sent off in the 1-1 draw in August for an off-the-ball kick at Scott McKenna.

That red was later rescinded on appeal.

In the Dons’ 1-0 win at Ibrox in December, Morelos was again sent off.

Aberdeen striker Sam Cosgrove, who faces a fitness test today, was also dismissed after receiving a contentious yellow card.

McInnes said: “All the talk, all the rivalry is for everyone else.

“It is important we just deal with the game and use our experience.

“We will need calm heads at the right time.

“It is about getting that balance right between fire and ice. Making sure we are aggressive and competitive enough to bring that intensity. Yet also making sure we are smart with our work.

“Playing Rangers is always a huge game, regardless of when it is during the season or where the teams are in the league.

“It is a fixture that is eagerly anticipated and the rivalry between both sets of supporters intensifies. Especially when we are in and around the same area in the league.

“It is the type of fixture where you can see more cards so it is important we have a discipline to our work and a focus.

“It is important for us just to knuckle down and try to deal with the game.”

Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie at full time

Aberdeen will tonight bid for a third straight victory over Steven Gerrard’s men.

Having won 1-0 in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden in October the Reds then triumphed by the same scoreline at Ibrox in December.

That was despite going a man down following Cosgrove’s challenge with Connor Goldson after 34 minutes where the Dons striker won the ball.

McInnes said: “We feel aggrieved we went down to 10 men. At Ibrox we were up against it and thankfully we had a goal to hang on to and that gave us the adrenaline, energy and belief that we could go on and win.

“That was exactly how it played.

“In that game, similar to the semi-final, we showed good resilience.

“In the game at Hampden Rangers stepped it up and at the start of the second half were the better team in the first 20 minutes, certainly in terms of possession.

“However, they rarely created much and Joe (Lewis, keeper) didn’t really have much to do.

“There was a good resilience, determination and resolve about the team.

“We got that all-important goal that day as well. There are different ways to win a game.

“It is important we recognise Rangers’ strengths and the type of game they will want it to be.

“However, we have to make sure it is more the game we want it to be.”

Pittodrie is set to be packed with in excess of 17,000 tickets already sold. McInnes reckons the backing of the Red Army will be pivotal in tonight’s clash.

He said: “This is an important game and we will need the help of the supporters

“We will need that understanding of the game and need that vocal support to try to help push the team on to get all three points.”