Aberdeen’s home form must improve if they are to finish third in the Premiership.
Saturday’s 2-1 Pittodrie loss to Ross County was the Dons’ fourth straight league loss at home.
This season in the Premiership the Reds’ have won only six of 14 league fixtures in the Granite City, drawing three and losing five.
It’s been a run of results at home that Derek McInnes and the players will be hugely disappointed with.
Going down to 10 men against the Staggies when Dean Campbell was sent off and playing 120 minutes in the midweek Scottish Cup replay at Kilmarnock are reasons for Saturday’s performance.
But you can’t get away from the fact the home form has not been good enough and needs to be fixed as quickly as possible.
Playing nearly an hour with a man down and possible fatigue from Rugby Park last Wednesday partly account for the display and result at the weekend. But it doesn’t account for poor performances at home prior to that.
The poor Pittodrie performances are starting to mount up, people are getting frustrated and it’s becoming a concern.
The Red Army had a lot of enthusiasm after the Scottish Cup win at Kilmarnock, but that will have drained away after another home defeat.
I still think Aberdeen have enough to finish third in the Premiership and get a Europa League spot for the seventh successive season.
But at the moment the home form isn’t good enough to finish third, winning six out 14 in the league at Pittodrie.
Maybe part of the reason the Dons still have a good chance of finishing third is the lack of competition, because Hibs and Hearts have been below-par.
However, the Reds’ points tally is also nine points lower than at this stage last season.
During McInnes’ time at Aberdeen, Pittodrie has been a fortress and they’ve picked up a lot of points and consistently finished the season with 70-plus points.
So the tally they currently have will concern McInnes.
We hear visiting managers says Pittodrie is a tough place to go, but there are a lot of managers that have left the Granite City happy this season. That is one of the reasons for fan frustration. Most of the Dons supporters only see them play at home, it’s only a select band that go regularly to away games.
So when the majority of the support see the home performances that leads to frustration.
Motherwell have done well this season but the Dons can still finish third, which would be a good Premiership campaign, but there is work to do.
At the weekend it was always going to be a challenge for Aberdeen to take something from the Ross County game once referee Gavin Duncan had shown Campbell a second yellow card.
If the midfielder was more experienced, the sending off probably doesn’t happen. He’s only 18 and it was a big opportunity for him and he let himself down through naivety. The first booking he picked up was unnecessary – if he doesn’t foul Josh Mullin, it wasn’t going to cause Aberdeen problems.
But once you get that yellow card you’re walking on thin ice. OK, during the rest of the game you can be unlucky and just mistime a challenge and get another yellow card.
But to stick his boot out and block a free-kick when the referee has already told him to move, is just rather silly.
It will be a situation Campbell learns from quickly and I’m sure he won’t do it again.
Once Campbell gets sent off, it makes it very difficult for his team-mates and that was a big part of Saturday’s performance.