Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes confident attacking options will bring rewards

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.

Dons boss Derek McInnes is confident his team will return to scoring ways this weekend against Kilmarnock because he has so many options in attack.

Aberdeen drew a blank last weekend in the 0-0 draw against Hearts at Murrayfield.

It’s just the second game this season in which they have failed to score, the other being the second leg of the Europa League third qualifying round when they were defeated in Cyprus by Apollon Limassol.

Heading into Saturday’s Pittodrie clash with Killie, McInnes is pleased with the options he has in attacking midfield and upfront.

In previous seasons Aberdeen relied on Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn to create and Adam Rooney as the main goalscorer, but McInnes believes the Reds have moved away from relying on just a few players in attack.

He said: “I feel as though everybody brings something a bit different.

“My job as manager is to try to manage everybody’s game time and keep the squad happy, making sure everybody feels involved.

“At a club like Aberdeen, we need good options and different types.

“We’ve been over-reliant on Adam Rooney for a period of time to get the goals and I like that we’ve got different options.

“Our last home game against Dundee (a 2-1 win) was a case in point, where there wasn’t the normal fluency to our game.

“We brought on Greg Stewart and Nicky Maynard (alongside Stevie May) and all of a sudden the centre-halves have got two strikers to deal with, and Greg’s a different type of player than what we had on the pitch.

“I think that having options and people who can change the game is very important to us. I’m comfortable with the amount of players we’ve got.”

During the summer McInnes has changed his striking options. Jayden Stockley and Miles Storey have departed with Nicky Maynard and Stevie May added.

And the manager believes he has the perfect mixture of strikers to deal with different situations.

He said: “I’ve got pace and movement. The three of them are all capable of scoring goals and, ultimately, the first job of a striker is to score goals.

“But I think we’ve got a bit of height, we’ve got experience, we’ve got penalty box strikers and we’ve got players who can play over the top in Maynard and May.

“So I feel, depending on what opposition we’re playing against and – players’ form is key to them playing – I do feel I’ve got different types of players who can be good for certain games.”

On Saturday against Hearts McInnes played two strikers in May and Rooney. It’s not something he has done often throughout his tenure.

But McInnes revealed going with a two-pronged attack is something he may try on a more regular basis if he feels it gives them the best chance of winning matches.

He added: “Stevie May can play in a one, he can play off the side.

“He predominantly did his work at St Johnstone in a 4-4-2, because that’s what they like to play – they play one up and one off.

“But that’s not to say it’s his only way of playing. I think what we have is good options and, if I feel as though going with two strikers allows us the best chance of winning a game, then I’d be open to doing that, the same as I would in any given game.

“But having the belief in the strikers give you a better chance of playing that way at times.

“What we’ve got over other teams is good wide players. Some teams might play 4-4-2 and it’s probably because they don’t have good wide players a lot of the time, so they go a wee bit more solid through the middle.

“I like to control games, I like to be in charge of games, and what we don’t need is the game being far too open.

“Sometimes, if you go with two strikers and wide players, it leaves you a bit more open than you’d like to be.”

McInnes also believes his team’s style of play has changed slightly this term following the departures of Hayes and McGinn and the arrival of new faces such as Ryan Christie, Gary Mackay-Steven and Greg Stewart.

“Ryan Christie is not a winger. He can play off the side, but does his best work centrally,” said McInnes.

“Jonny Hayes predominantly held the width for us and that’s what we ask Gary Mackay-Steven or Scott Wright to do when he’s playing.

“We feel we do need that element of width in the team. Ryan and Greg aren’t going to be exactly what Niall McGinn was, it’s difficult to replace like for like.”

With over 15,000 members of the Red Army expected to attend Saturday’s game, McInnes hopes the large support can help the Dons return to winning ways.

He said: “They do make a difference and being at home I think it’s important we do get the noise levels up and create that atmosphere, which is very important.

“Like any game, you’re never going to get it all your own way all the time, but when you’re on top of teams with that support behind you it can make a difference. “It’s frustrating that we didn’t play as well as we could have last week, particularly in the second half.

“But we’re mindful of the fact that, when we don’t play so well, it’s always important to pick up points as you go along.

“But we’re keen to get back to winning games and hopefully we can do that at a busy Pittodrie.”