In the wake of fresh Covid-19 breaches within Scottish football Dons boss Derek McInnes believes it was easy to criticise Aberdeen for breaking the rules in August.
Rangers pairing George Edmundson and Jordan Jones were suspended by the Ibrox club and given a fine by police after hosting a house party last Sunday.
In response the Scottish Government praised the Gers’ action and said: “We commend Rangers for taking such swift and decisive action in this instance to the rest of their squad and wider public.”
Whereas when eight Aberdeen players broke coronavirus protocols by attending a city centre bar on August 1 they were condemned by many, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who blasted their actions as “completely unacceptable” and threatened to pull the plug on the return of football.
The First Minister was also scathing in her criticism of Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli who failed to quarantine following a trip to Spain later that month.
Hoops boss Neil Lennon spoke earlier this week of “double standards” when assessing the government’s response to Edmundson and Jones’ breach of the rules.
Aberdeen manager McInnes, who is preparing his side to face Hibs tonight, said: “We took an unbelievable amount of criticism from the outset. Rightly so, and we took our punishment.
“What I did feel at the time was there was a feeling from a lot of people and one or two managers that they were doing everything right and I felt as though it was too easy for us to be shot at.
“We were the first ones to be highlighted and there were probably a lot of clubs who took a sigh of relief and looked at what they were doing with their own procedures.
“With us being caught out by the naivety of the players, it probably allowed other clubs to assess everything.
“That was a good thing as I don’t think everybody was being squeaky clean.
“What we have got to do is to try to minimise the effect on football and reinforce our procedures all the time. That is what we are trying to do.
“I did feel at the time when I saw other managers and people from clubs being interviewed, saying that they were doing everything right with them at Aberdeen letting the whole side down.
“I felt angry and disappointed about that at the time.
“I did say at the time that every club would be affected by this. All you can do is try to minimise the risks and the effect of that.
“That is why doing so much right day-to-day and reinforcing those key messages is so important. We don’t want another episode.
“We have learned to deal with the virus with the way our lives have been different for the last four or five months. We have become regimented with what we can and can’t do.
“I think football is doing so much right to keep the whole season going. We feel that responsibility.
“While we were wrong at the time and rightly criticised, I haven’t seen the same condemnation that was aimed towards us right across the board for anybody else. That is a fact.
“Whether that was because we were the first, I don’t know.”
Aberdeen have the chance to move upto third in the Premiership tonight if they defeat Hibs at Pittodrie.
The Reds are looking to bounce back from last weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Celtic.
McInnes added: “I think it’s a good game for us. I think any game would be good. Any time you have a disappointment, you just want to get back into it again and try and make yourself feel better.
“The game comes round pretty quickly from Sunday and it is a tasty fixture against a good Hibs team.
“We want to make sure we’re as competitive as we can be in the league.
“I think if we can win, it would be up there with our second best start in the league in 20 years in terms of points per game.
“We know the importance of trying to beat teams in and around you at any time in the season and I do expect Hibs to be amongst the European places this season – they’ve said that themselves.”
Supporters will return to a Scottish stadium for the first time since September tonight when Ross County welcome 300 fans against Livingston.
The Staggies along with the Dons hosted two pilot events with 300 fans on September 12.
The Reds yesterday launched a survey of season ticket holders regarding returning to games and also released an operational plan for holding test events with 1000 fans when restrictions allow.
McInnes said: “It makes sense. Certain areas are getting hit harder than others with the rate of the virus.
“The Highlands are in Tier 1 which allows them to get supporters in.
“We are in Tier 2 and keen to get to Tier 1 to allow us the opportunity to get supporters back in.
“We saw the benefit in the actual game (against Kilmarnock) but it was also the right message to supporters that we were getting closer.
“We seemed to lose that a little bit. The fact there are supporters going to the Ross County game is great for them.
“It shows what can be done if we manage to control the virus outwith football in our area and that we might get an upside from that.”