Evening Express

McInnes confident he has squad supporters ‘can be excited about’

Derek McInnes

Dons boss Derek McInnes today insisted he will keep trying to strengthen his squad – but reckons he already has a team that can deliver success.

The Reds face Rangers at Pittodrie tomorrow in their first Premiership game, just days after crashing out of Europe.

Following the 3-1 loss to Burnley at Turf Moor, McInnes admitted there was “raw disappointment” among his squad.

However, he has warned there can be no European hangover when they kick-start the domestic campaign against Steven Gerrard’s Rangers.

McInnes had hoped to have a new striker on board ahead of the Rangers clash but is confident his squad can still do a job tomorrow, and reckons the Battle of Britain has given the Red Army a taster of what is ahead this season.

He said: “Our supporters applauded the team to a man for their efforts at Burnley but I think there was also a tinge of excitement for what is ahead.

“We have gave our supporters a little hint and flavour of what we expect from the team this year.”

McInnes has secured six new signings this season: Lewis Ferguson, Stephen Gleeson, Tommie Hoban, Chris Forrester, Dominic Ball and Tomas Cerny.

The only transfer fee paid out was £200,000 to Peterbrough for Forrester. However, the development fee the Dons will have to pay Hamilton for Turf Moor goal hero Ferguson will be decided by an SPFL tribunal on August 21.

In contrast, Rangers have splashed in excess of £5 million this summer in a bid to overtake the Reds, who finished Premiership runners-up.

McInnes reckons this has prompted many pundits to predict the Ibrox club will overtake them in Scotland’s pecking order – especially in light of the Glasgow outfit’s dealings in the transfer market.

He has other ideas.

McInnes said: “If you listen to what everyone else is saying, that we are going to be this and that and we are going to finish here in the league and we need this player or we need that player.

“However, there is enough here, in personality and confidence, within that team to suggest to me that we are going to have a good season.

“We will try to bring good reinforcements in but the squad is strong and we aim to show that this season.”

There is no better arena to show that in than a season opener against Rangers.

Ultimately, it is just three points – the season will not be defined by this game – but a win could certainly represent an early marker and statement of intent.

Last season Aberdeen took just one point from 12 against a Rangers side beset by problems behind the scenes.

“When you saw the ovation from the supporters at the end (of the Burnley tie), it was not just in recognition of the players’ efforts and quality of performance,” he said.

“It was also that they see, something in this squad they can be excited about for the season ahead.

“And there is no better game to try to get off (to a good start) and feel better about ourselves than by winning against Rangers.

“That will be tough but it is a brilliant game to be involved in and may be just the perfect game after the disappointment of losing to Burnley.”