Defender Andy Considine has challenged Aberdeen to recover from their Scottish Cup shocker by securing European qualification.
The Reds are reeling after a 3-0 quarter-final defeat to Dundee United destroyed hopes of new boss Stephen Glass’ leading the club to silverware within weeks of his appointment.
Considine insists the season is still alive and aims to deliver qualification to the Uefa Europa Conference League when facing fifth placed Livingston on Saturday.
A draw will be enough to secure a spot in the second qualifying round of Uefa’s newly created third tier tournament next season.
If Aberdeen secure at least a point on Saturday it will confirm European qualification for the eighth successive season.
Considine said: “Being in Europe is massive for this club.
“We’ve had that for the last seven years, to get that again would be a great achievement by the boys.
“We’d rather be third but if we do finish fourth and get European football, that’s great.”
Although the Uefa Conference League will be the third tier of European football there will be the potential to face big name teams.
Teams that finish sixth, or potentially seventh, in England, Spain, Germany and Italy will qualify.
At the moment that is Liverpool, Real Betis, Bayer Leverkusen and Lazio.
The Europa Conference League will launch next season, with the final to be played at Albania's new National Arena in Tirana.
All you need to know about UEFA's new club competition 👇
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) December 3, 2020
Should Aberdeen qualify for the Conference League their first game will be on Thursday July 22, with the draw made on June 16.
Considine won’t give up hope on third
Although the bid to over-take Hibs in third place remains an outside chance Considine refuses to give up hope.
The Easter Road club hold a six point advantage, and superior goal advantage, with only three Premiership matches remaining this season.
Scotland international Considine said: “Third is still massive for us.
“There is still an opportunity, having Livingston, Hibs at home, then going to Rangers.
“I feel we’ve done it the hard way a few times, and if it means we’ve to do it the hard way this year, then so be it.
“To try and get to Hampden and give yourself a chance of winning a trophy is a big enough incentive for any player but we just seemed slightly lethargic.
“Now the Scottish Cup is over with, I still feel as though there is a fair amount to play for.
“We still have a chance of getting third. We obviously hope results go our way and we need to look after ourselves. With football, you just have to knuckle down.
“There’s always a game round the corner where you can go from zero to hero or hero to zero. It’s just the way it works.
“I know each and every one of those boys will want to prove everyone wrong. The United result is a massive blip, it really is.
“It’s a sore one to take but if we can go and get a result against Livingston and take care of Hibs, then it will set us up for an interesting final game.”
Players now battling for their futures – not just third
One of the longest serving players in the club’s history Considine has been in the game long enough to realise that players are now battling for far more than third spot and European qualification.
They are battling for their futures under the new management regime.
He said: “For every player in the squad, there is something to play for now that the new manager is in.
“Whether it’s getting a new contract, a contract somewhere else, or making sure you’re in the manager’s thoughts for next season.
“When we get back into training this week, it will be heads down and focusing on the next game.
“That’s the good thing in that there is always a game to look forward to where you can sort the performance, sort the confidence, sort the belief out.”
Scottish Cup defeat was a ‘ massive kick in the teeth’
Considine was given the captain’s arm-band for the quarter-final in the absence of skipper Joe Lewis who was rested on the bench having suffered a rib injury.
He accepts Aberdeen were way off the pace in a defeat that was a ‘massive kick in the teeth’ for the squad after building confidence under new boss Glass.
Considine said: “Having Dundee United at home, I was more than happy with. I couldn’t see any result other than us going through.
“I’ve felt that, especially over the last two games, confidence was good in the squad, training was good.
“I felt really confident going into the United game, but it just seemed to be a bridge too far for us with three games in a week.
“The style of play that we’re obviously trying to achieve is to play through the thirds, it does leave you open.
“As a team, we need to react and we need to get back into our defensive shape quicker than what we did against United.
“We looked stretched, we looked open, every time that we did lose the ball up front, we just seemed to be miles away from our midfield.
“Between our backline and forwards, it just seemed to be too much. It felt like a recovery run every time for the back four.
“It was a tough shift for us, but to be fair to Dundee United, they had relentless energy and they ran us into the ground and we couldn’t handle it. It’s a massive kick in the teeth, it really is, but we’re all in this together.
“We’re a group and we’ve given the manager everything. The cup tie was just that step too much.”