Charlie Mulgrew has praised Derek McInnes for making Aberdeen a regular competitive force.
Former Aberdeen and Celtic man Mulgrew paid particular notice to the recruitment McInnes has had to do during his time at Pittodrie.
The Dons have not finished outside the top four during McInnes’ tenure in the north-east and finished second in four consecutive seasons between 2014 and 2018.
Dons boss McInnes has had to cope with numerous key players departing, including Ryan Jack, Kenny McLean and Graeme Shinnie. The latest was Scott McKenna, who completed a £3.5 million move to Nottingham Forest last month.
Mulgrew admitted to being impressed by the Dons in the 3-3 draw with Celtic on Sunday, ahead of the two sides meeting again in the Scottish Cup semi-final this coming weekend.
He said: “Aberdeen were good. Derek McInnes has done a great job there, being there nearly eight years now.
“He just keeps turning players out – that’s credit to him and Tony Doc. They must be really good coaches and have good man-management skills, because it’s not easy to do that.
“To attract players up to Aberdeen – there’s a lot of teams in the Glasgow area, so it must be difficult. But he’s done well in turning out the players he has and keeps getting results. Fair play to him.
“They were impressive on Sunday and fought back well to get a result.
“My experience is they like to go man-for-man in some areas of the pitch. When I played midfield there a few times I always had someone close to me – Barry Robson I remember being close to me quite a bit. It can be difficult at times and it can work to your advantage, as you can move them wherever you want them.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to play against. I don’t know if he’s still using that approach but that’s what I remember.”
The Dons have not beaten Celtic at Hampden Park since the 1992 League Cup semi-final, in which Eoin Jess scored the only goal.
However, their showing at Pittodrie last weekend, in which they took the lead twice, has given supporters confidence that they can end that wait.
What team will Derek McInnes pick to play Celtic at Hampden after last weekend’s dress rehearsal? We debated the selection dilemma on this week’s Northern Goal podcast:
The prize would be a place in the Scottish Cup final against either Hearts or Hibernian, in a competition the Dons last won in 1990.
Mulgrew added: “I imagine it will be a tight game after a 3-3 draw. I would say it will come down to whoever can score that first goal.
“I think it will be tight because both teams will be wary of each other. When you’ve conceded three goals in a game, you don’t want to concede any in the next game. That will be part of your breakdown of the game.
“You’ll have spoken about losing goals, so neither team will be wanting to do that. I think it will be tight and probably come down to who can score the first goal.
“When there are no fans in the stadium, it takes away that wee bit of extra pressure that is on you. Sometimes if you’re in this run that Celtic are on, the first five, ten minutes of a game, the fans can be a bit edgy.
“A couple of sideways passes, or giving the ball away, and then they can be on top of you.
“I think it might help that there are no fans. Everybody wants fans back in and it adds to the game, but it might help both teams relax into the game a wee bit more.”
- Charlie Mulgrew was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.