Finishing third last season, Aberdeen go straight to the Europa League playoff round, so their only competitive game since losing 5-0 at Celtic Park at the end of last season was Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Livingston. They prepared for the season with only four friendlies, meaning they have seen less game time than anyone else in the league, perhaps in the country.
Our record at Pittodrie is excellent. There have been 11 wins and two draws since the last defeat, under Ronny Deila, still, for my generation, this is always a daunting fixture. We were conditioned during more difficult times.
What happened last season to Aberdeen remains unexplained. Jim Goodwin had them performing well, but letting a two-goal lead slip late on against Newco derailed them. Form disintegrated amid humiliating defeats to Darvel, Hibs and Hearts.
Barry Robson took over as interim and effected an immediate turnaround. From an unlikely position, they climbed the table into third position, sweeping aside Hibs and Hearts without trace of their earlier defeats. Barry’s status as a winner is without question among the Celtic support, I hope he succeeds at Aberdeen, although not for a few more days.
I was a bit surprised to read Brendan Rodgers suggesting that Reo Hatate “has to prove himself”. This is no more true for Reo as it is for everyone else in the squad. Managing a couple of dozen young athletes will require various techniques, I hope this is merely a way to tweak Reo’s role.
One technique all managers like to employ is making an example of a miscreant. Alexandro Bernabei missed a team meeting and put his own neck in the stocks. If there is a serious athlete in there, he had better show himself quickly.