Derek McInnes’ sleight of hand was at work yesterday as he tried to put pressure on Neil Lennon ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final, telling The Scotsman, “If [Neil] loses the Cup, it’s Neil’s team and I think the only pressure on Neil will be from himself”.
The words were wrapped in a generous sentiment, but the Aberdeen boss knows his chances are improved if he can transfer pressure onto Neil Lennon. Some self-contemplation would be more appropriate. McInnes has been at Aberdeen for six years, a period which has seen the club comfortably settle into the role of second force, but after winning the first trophy available to him, the 2014 League Cup, he has watched others pick up the spare trophies Celtic dropped.
Since winning a major honour in his first season and four consecutive second place finishes in the league, progress has stalled. They perennially failed to reach the Europa League group stage and now sit fourth in the Premiership.
Derek McInnes needs a trophy more than Neil Lennon. Beating Newco in Glasgow are his only ‘trophies’ this season, and while Aberdeen fans enjoyed those days in the big city, they will count for little if they are out of the Cup on Sunday night and behind Kilmarnock in the league.