League Cup winner Stark backing Aberdeen after psychological boost of win over Rangers

Billy Stark in his Aberdeen playing days.
Billy Stark in his Aberdeen playing days.

Billy Stark played in an Aberdeen side that won at Hampden regularly.

And he reckons the psychological boost of reaching the League Cup final can propel the Dons to glory tomorrow.

The Reds overcame Rangers 1-0 in the semi-final at the national stadium to set up the showpiece with Celtic.

It was a significant victory for Derek McInnes’ team with many expecting the Gers to win.

Stark, who lifted the Scottish Cup at Hampden in 1984 and 1986 and the League Cup at the national stadium in 1985 in Sir Alex Ferguson’s Dons team, said: “Derek McInnes touched on the criticism and how it was a bit unfair after the semi-final.

“Getting to semi-finals and finals regularly allows people to criticise you.

“The semi-final was difficult for Aberdeen to win because of the nature of the opposition, but they did it. Psychologically winning the last one was great for them.

“They will take confidence from it, but you have to be realistic and say that a couple of months ago you would be more confident in terms of Celtic’s level with where it was then and where it is now.

“Defensively in the semi-final they showed they were able to handle it.

“Rangers had more of the ball, but didn’t have the cutting edge and you have to give Aberdeen credit for the defensive performance.

“If you can also keep a threat at set-plays for example, that can get you into a winning position.”

Under Fergie there was a siege mentality among the Aberdeen squad when they had big matches in Glasgow.

Stark, who is Scotland Under-19s coach, hopes the current squad have similar belief.

He added: “You need to understand the difficulty of the task, but at the same time have the belief to get the job done.

“Underlying everything has got to be belief that comes from the staff.

“You always hesitate to compare the era under Fergie with other eras. But I can say in my time at the club we never went to Glasgow and felt we would lose.

“That’s not to say we won every game, but the vast majority we won – particularly cup finals and semi-finals.

“It’s getting that balance right that you understand there is a psychological element to it and it’s a cup final, 11 v 11, and you’ve got the chance.”

Stark, who played for Celtic from 1987 to 1990, believes the Hoops are favourites.

However, he also believes Aberdeen have the attackers to hurt Brendan Rodgers’ men and thinks the Dons have to take confidence from the 2017 Scottish Cup final when they were edged out 2-1 by Tom Rogic’s stoppage-time winner.

He said: “You’ve got wide players like Niall McGinn and Gary Mackay-Steven who can make things happen.

“It would be a big help to Aberdeen if they can play like they did in the Scottish Cup final where they had parity for long spells and got the first goal.”