Defender Greg Leigh accepts there will be criticism when Aberdeen flop as they are Scotland’s third biggest club.
So when the double whammy arrived of not only succumbing meekly to Livingston, but also being toppled off third spot arrived, Leigh anticipated a backlash.
It came. It was deserved.
The flak was directed at both the players and manager Derek McInnes as a concerning slump continued that has yielded just two wins in nine games now.
Bare minimum for Aberdeen is third – that Leigh’s belief.
Now he insists it is time to deliver – starting today.
When you are at a team like Aberdeen you are expected to be third in the league, because we’re the third-biggest team in Scotland.
“We are expected to get results and when you don’t get results there are eyes on you.
“If you don’t live up to it, you have your critics.”
He reckons the only way to silence the critics is to deliver results, which Aberdeen have struggled to do recently.
Leigh accepts that must change at Easter Road today where victory will leap-frog the Dons back above Hibs into third.
He said: “When you are at a team like Aberdeen, you are expected to be third in the league, because we’re the third-biggest team in Scotland.
“We are expected to get results and, when you don’t get results, there are eyes on you.
“If you don’t live up to it, you have your critics.
“Winning games and good performances silences any critics anywhere who have things to say.”
Manager McInnes has also come in for criticism after a run of just one victory this year, with only six points secured from a possible 21 in a dismal 2021.
Leigh said: “Do we owe the manager a performance?
“I’d say so.
“It was massively disappointing and everyone felt it after the (Livingston) game.
“I would say it was a wake-up call, but maybe it is more than that.
“It is a time where we need to address scoring goals and winning games.”
Aberdeen boss McInnes conducted a thorough post-mortem into the first half debacle against Livingston on the day after that damaging defeat.
Leigh, 26, said: “The realisation after the Livingston defeat was a real tough one to take over the last couple of days.
“However, the gaffer has been on our case to get that game out of our heads and to get us to focus on the next game.
“We know whoever wins the game today goes into third spot and that is our motivation.
“We are confident we can get the result we want, if we play the way we know we can.”
‘Whole team realises we need to start scoring goals’
Fundamental to Aberdeen’s slump has been the inability to score.
In the six games since the turn of the year, the Dons have scored just three times and registered three 0-0 stalemates.
McInnes moved to rectify that in the transfer window by completely completely revamping his attack.
It is imperative we get going, because we’ve had too many poor results.
“The whole team realises we need to start scoring goals and winning games.
“We know we are at the point where we need to do something about it.”
Still the goals didn’t come as Scotland U21s all-time record scorer Hornby (Stade de Reims) and Hendry (St Johnstone) made their debuts in the Livi loss.
Aberdeen have failed to score in the last three games.
Leigh said: “It is imperative we get going, because we’ve had too many poor results.
“The whole team realises we need to start scoring goals and winning games. We know we are at the point where we need to do something about it.”
“It’s difficult for everyone when we’re not scoring goals and I think we are due to start scoring.
“Everyone here is in it together, it’s a collective.
“We are all in it together, we have each other’s backs. “
Aberdeen’s hopes of arresting the concerning goal drought were dealt a bitter blow with confirmation Ryan Hedges, one of the main creative outlets, is set to be out injured for the rest of the season with a pectoral muscle injury.
The manager today confirmed in his press conference that Ryan Hedges will likely miss the remainder of the season due to the injury sustained on Tuesday night.
Full coverage from the press conference to follow. pic.twitter.com/5QtgP9hsHe
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) February 5, 2021
That blow came just days after Scott Wright, another creator, completed a transfer to Rangers on transfer deadline day.
Leigh said: “Losing Ryan is a big hit for the team, because he’s probably been our most influential player this season.
“So to get injured the way he did was really disappointing for him and for the team.
“It’s difficult, we can’t lie, but we need people to step up and do the job he’s been doing for the team.”