Aberdeen players have to show they can handle the pressure of being at a big club in the high pressure clash with Celtic.
After eight games without a win, the heat is mounting on the Dons to deliver on the promise and optimism of earlier in the campaign.
Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass, and the Red Army, will know all they need to about the players’ character during the showdown with Celtic on Sunday.
Stakes are high for that Pittodrie clash and the Dons must stand up and show they can handle the pressure.
Granted, it can take a little time for new signings to bed into a big club like Aberdeen with the aspirations and expectations that come with that.
However, that time is over.
It is now time to deliver – and that must start against Celtic.
It is a concern that Aberdeen have dropped into the bottom six of the Premiership with a return of just two points from the last possible 15.
It is an even bigger concern that they are only five points off the bottom of the table.
Aberdeen must stop the rot now and the players must show what they are made of.
Celtic have suffered their worst start to a league campaign in more than 20 years so they are also under pressure and will also be desperate to win.
It could come down to a battle of nerves and who handles the situation better in a game where defeat will plunge either side further into an unwanted negative run.
If Aberdeen fail to get a result against Celtic, it could be a long, long season.
Yet Sunday’s game could also be a turning point for Aberdeen.
Victory would boost morale amongst both the team and supporters and hopefully be the spark for an upturn in fortunes.
Or it could go the other way with a bad result, and the negativity will increase even further.
It is up to Aberdeen – they have to go out and show their character.
They have to battle for the entire 90 minutes and retain complete concentration throughout.
Aberdeen cannot afford slip-ups at the back that have been so costly this season and they must take the chances that come along.
There has been a lot of focus on Aberdeen’s possession stats in recent games as they had 75% of the ball against both St Johnstone and Motherwell.
The only stat that matters is the amount of points they took from those games where they dominated the ball – zero.
There is no point dominating possession if there is no end product.
Just look at underdogs Sheriff Tiraspol’s sensational 2-1 win away at Real Madrid in the Champions League this week.
The Moldovan side had just 26% of the possession against the 76% of the 13 time Champions League winners. However Sheriff Tiraspol delivered where it matters, by taking their chances and keeping it tight at the back when Real had the ball.
Aberdeen will not have near as much possession against Celtic as they have in recent games so when they have the ball they have to make it count by powering upfield in attack and for the young-full backs to whip crosses into the box.
Beating Celtic could kick-start the season- but the Dons have to show they have the character to do that.
Assessment of Joe Lewis for Celtic
Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass will have to make a call ahead of the Celtic game on whether to retain faith with keeper Joe Lewis.
That will come down to how the 33-year-old keeper has looked in training this week.
I am sure the manager will have talked with Lewis this week to assess his confidence after recent mistakes.
Lewis made an error in the winning goal when Aberdeen went down 3-2 at St Mirren when he raced off his line to collect a punt into the box but missed it completely.
GOAL! St Mirren 3-2 Aberdeen (Main, 61)
𝐖𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐀 𝐆𝐀𝐌𝐄! 💥
🗣 "It's another amazing turnaround! Extraordinary!"
📺 Watch live on Sky Sports Football pic.twitter.com/Hlk8w6nQGQ
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) September 26, 2021
Unfortunately the ball flew past the keeper and into the net.
Lewis also had a poor kick-out that led to St Mirren’s opening goal.
During his Aberdeen career, Lewis has been a fantastic keeper and has produced pivotal saves that have secured results.
He had the joint number of Premiership shut-outs last season with 17 along with Allan McGregor of champions Rangers.
However, errors have crept in.
The manager will make a call on Lewis based on what he has seen on training and any talks this week with the keeper – it will not be affected in any way by any calls from outside Pittodrie to perhaps give Lewis a rest.
Ramsay must serve apprenticeship
Teenage full-back Calvin Ramsay has a very bright future and Manchester United are the latest club to be linked with the 18-year-old.
Premier League Everton have also had Ramsay watched and there is no doubting he is an exciting talent who will go far.
However, the teen’s immediate future must be at Aberdeen so he can continue his apprenticeship.
Ramsay only broke into the Dons’ first team in March this year and is still on a very steep learning curve.
There is no better place for him to learn than at Pittodrie, where he is getting regular first team starts.
If he continues his rate of progression, the big money move to England will come.
However, that should be in a few years time when the teen has served his apprenticeship.
My advice to Ramsay would be keep your feet on the ground and don’t dive into anything.