Dons cult hero Willem van der Ark says results before a cup final don’t matter.
Aberdeen face Celtic at Hampden in the League Cup final on Sunday after the disappointment of Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Motherwell.
The Reds were second best at Fir Park last weekend and were deservedly beaten by the Steelmen.
But Dutch striker van der Ark insists the results ahead of a final are of little importance.
The 55-year-old joined Alex Smith and Jocky Scott’s Dons in 1989 from Willem II in Holland and helped Aberdeen win the League Cup in October of that year.
Van der Ark played a key role in the 2-1 final victory over Rangers after coming on as a substitute.
Paul Mason netted a famous double with the winner coming in the first half of extra-time after van der Ark flicked on David Robertson’s long throw-in to Charlie Nicholas who laid the ball off for Mason to finish.
The week before that final the Reds suffered disappointment as they lost 3-1 to Hearts at Pittodrie, with van der Ark scoring.
The former Cambuur, Utrecht and Den Haag striker, who left Aberdeen in 1991 and now works as an estate agent in Leeuwarden, Holland, says defeat to the Jambos before lifting the cup in 1989 shows results ahead of cup finals can be misleading.
Van der Ark said: “If you play a bad game before the final it doesn’t have any impact.
“Aberdeen lost at the weekend to Motherwell but it won’t affect the cup final.
“We lost to Hearts and I scored but I can’t even remember it.
“So it just shows you we lost as well before the final and it doesn’t make a difference.
“In the build-up to a cup final it is a one-off and everyone focuses and raises their game in a way.
“Aberdeen have the full week to prepare so all the noses will go in the right direction and they will be ready.”
Although the Dons team of 1989 contained legends Willie Miller, Alex McLeish, Stewart McKimmie, Jim Bett and Theo Snelders, van der Ark says they were underdogs against Graeme Souness’ Rangers side.
That Gers side had Ally McCoist, Mo Johnston, Richard Gough, Terry Butcher and Mark Walters in the ranks.
But the Reds managed to get the better of it and lift the cup. And van der Ark reckons Derek McInnes’ men can do the same on Sunday against Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic.
He added: “I think Aberdeen have a decent chance. When we played Rangers, yes we had a good side.
“But like Celtic now, Rangers were the favourites with all the big stars in their team at that time.
“For some people it was a surprise we won and I give Aberdeen a chance on Sunday.
“Celtic are favourites and that is because of the results over the last few years and Celtic have been doing better than anyone else in the last couple of years.
“But in a cup final you always have a good chance whether you are favourites or underdogs. I think being underdogs suits Aberdeen in some ways.”
In 1989 Mason was the hero for Aberdeen and van der Ark would love to see one of the current Dons strikers make the difference on Sunday.
He says it doesn’t matter who hits the net as long as the Reds return to the Granite City with the trophy.
Van der Ark said: “I think one goal is enough for Aberdeen because they can keep Celtic out.
“People look forward to it and everyone gets excited and everyone around the city wants the result.
“It’s time again for them to win a cup after a few years and I am hopeful.”