There are no excuses for Aberdeen’s poor performances in the two losses to Rangers this season, insists boss Derek McInnes.
And he has called for an improvement tomorrow when the Reds host the Premiership leaders at Pittodrie.
Despite issues with injuries and Covid-19 self-isolation for both defeats to the Gers, McInnes accepts the bottom line is the Dons were not good enough.
I don’t want to make excuses as the last two performances weren’t good enough.”
He is confident this will change in the Granite City tomorrow as Aberdeen aim to end the 22-game unbeaten Premiership run of the runaway league leaders.
McInnes said: “I don’t want to make excuses as the last two performances (against Rangers) weren’t good enough.
“We know what we are up against tomorrow and it will be a tough, tough game.
“Rangers have got to feel it is a tougher game for them than they have in the last two games.
“We know we are capable of so much better.
“Our fight is with ourselves to show that.”
Aberdeen lost 1-0 to Rangers at Pittodrie in the opening Premiership game of the season on August 1.
They then crashed 4-0 at Ibrox in November in a match where Ross McCrorie was unavailable due to the terms of his loan deal from Rangers and Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennan were self-isolating following a Covid-19 outbreak in the Scotland Under-21s.
McInnes said: “It (1-0 defeat on August 1) was our first competitive game in five months as it was for everybody.
“We weren’t as prepared squad-wise and injury-wise for that first game.
“There has been a few teams who have played us at a good time this season when we have had a lot of injuries or the Covid issues.
“Certainly the last game at Ibrox we were bang in the middle of that period.
“It left us way short, but this time around we have certainly got more players to choose from.”
Steven Gerrard’s in-form side are 19 points clear at the top of the table, ahead of defending champions Celtic.
We have to take confidence that we know, if we can produce a level of performance, it will make the game far more competitive and closer in terms of chances.”
Aberdeen’s last league defeat was at Ibrox two months ago and McInnes has urged his squad to take confidence from their own run.
He said: “We have to take confidence from the fact we have lost one game in 14 in the league.
“The last defeat was against Rangers when we were nowhere near what we are capable of.
“We have to take confidence that we know, if we can produce a level of performance, it will make the game far more competitive and closer in terms of chances.”
Aberdeen were held to a 0-0 draw by Dundee United in their last game.
McInnes accepts they must deliver more in attack to trouble a defence that has conceded just five goals in 22 Premiership games.
He said: “Rangers have such a strong defensive record at the minute, but we have to make sure we ask the question, find opportunities in the game and take them.
“Against Dundee United, we worked the ball into good areas, but needed to land more blows and have a punch in their penalty box.
“If we do arrive in those situations tomorrow, it is important that we try and make that count.
“We know we are going to be tested defensively and that our out of possession work will be crucial and critical to ensure Rangers don’t get it all their own way and enjoy the game.”
Connor McLennan fights for fitness
Winger Connor McLennan faces a battle to be fit for tomorrow’s clash with league leaders Rangers at Pittodrie.
Scotland U21 international McLennan has received a steroid injection into his foot following an MRI scan this week.
Manager Derek McInnes hopes he will come through training today and will be given the green light to face Rangers.
He said: “Connor is still a doubt. He got an MRI on Monday and, on that investigation, it was suggested that he got a steroid injection into the bone.
“It’s an extra bit of bone in his foot. He’s got a little issue there.
“Hopefully he will be able to train today.”
Northern Ireland international winger Niall McGinn is suffering from a calf problem and McInnes hopes he will be okay for tomorrow’s clash.
He said: “Niall has got a little calf thing, but hopefully he’ll train today.”
Aberdeen are without Scotland U21 international midfielder Ross McCrorie for tomorrow’s clash.
McCrorie is on a season-long loan from Rangers and cannot face his parent club due to the terms of that loan agreement.
At the end of this season, McCrorie will pen a three-year permanent deal with Aberdeen for £350,000.
Defender Greg Leigh, who this week penned a contract extension until the end of the season, is also out with a hamstring injury. Leigh is in contention to return to face Livingston away on Wednesday evening.
Dylan McGeouch (groin) and Mikey Devlin (hamstring) are also out.
Teenager Calvin Ramsay is also out.
McInnes said: “Calvin twisted his ankle in training and is out as well.
“He looks like he’s taken a sore one.”