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Joe Harper column: Loss to Hacken in Sweden can be positive for Aberdeen as a reminder they are not the finished article

Martin Olsson celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 Hacken.
Martin Olsson celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 Hacken.

Aberdeen’s 2-0 loss to BK Hacken in Sweden could end up being a positive going into this weekend’s Premiership opener against Dundee United.

Ultimately, the Dons are through to the Europa Conference League third qualifying round due to their superb 5-1 win over the Swedes at Pittodrie last week.

And the defeat they suffered in Gothenburg last night is a timely reminder they still have work to do before they can start thinking about success this season.

Last night’s game was always a difficult one for boss Stephen Glass to judge – did he send his Aberdeen side out to protect their advantage and try to take the sting out of the game? Or did they go out to score a few more?

I think right at the start the Reds were trying to be careful and contain their opponents, which saw Hacken start with a bit more intent and have early chances. But, as the first half wore on, Aberdeen were the better team, and they passed up a few chances to score and really put the tie to bed.

You’ve got to remember Aberdeen are not fully fit yet. They’ve played less than five games together – and I think attacking players Christian Ramirez and Ryan Hedges didn’t look fully up to speed.

Aberdeen’s Christian Ramirez in action.

They got a scare after the break with the two Hacken goals, but then there was the crazy period where there were a lot of fouls and the referee lost the plot, having been quite lenient in the first half. I don’t know how he remembered the names of all the players he was booking!

After that, it felt comfortable again for Aberdeen, who were still leading 5-3 on aggregate, and they saw it out to set up a tie with Iceland’s Briedablik, starting next week.

Ahead of the Premiership opener with Dundee United on Sunday, one change I’d expect Glass and his coaching staff to make is for Scotland international Declan Gallagher to come into the team. I think it’s a certainty, because Ross McCrorie and Andy Considine didn’t look too convincing as a pairing against the Swedish team – they got in behind a few times, with the penalty, where Joe Lewis was forced to take down Leo Bengtsson, a poor moment.

Again, you need to remember it’s early days and the players all over the park need a bit more time to get up to speed and to get used to their new team-mates, but former Motherwell captain Gallagher, with his experience, would hopefully shore things up at the back.

Another point I’d make is, as good as Jay Emmanuel-Thomas has been, sometimes you want him to release the ball a bit quicker, and neither JET or Ramirez had the quickest start to the game up front in Gothenburg.

But there have still been a lot of positives from the opening two Euro games – with last night’s loss to Hacken maybe one of them.

Now Aberdeen won’t be going into their clash with Dundee United with any complacency, and they can’t afford to. After their 5-1 win in the first leg against the Swedes, there was so much praise – with people starting to talk about them winning the league, and challenging Rangers and Celtic. Too much praise can be a bad thing.

Just like the Dons, Tam Courts’ Tangerines will want a fast start to the Premiership season, so it won’t be easy. They’ll need to come out of the blocks quickly at Pittodrie, with everyone on their gamel.

If the team get the ball down and play the kind of attacking football on display in the first leg against Hacken, they can make the perfect start to their league campaign.

Aberdeen’s statue to former boss Fergie is deserved

Sir Alex Ferguson deserves the statue Aberdeen have commissioned of him for outside the Richard Donald Stand at Pittodrie.

Dons chairman Dave Cormack announced the tribute to club’s former manager from the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg – the site of Aberdeen’s 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup triumph – alongside Neil Simpson, who was of course in Fergie’s team against Real Madrid on the famous night.

We maybe didn’t see eye to eye about his methods when I played under him, but the success Aberdeen had during his eight-year spell in charge – winning every domestic honour, as well as two European trophies – won’t be repeated by any Scottish club.

Sir Alex Ferguson.

Disappointment for Formartine, glory for the Broch – but fans being back is the best part

I was disappointed for my local team in Pitmedden, Formartine United, as they missed out on the 2020/21 Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup in Inverurie on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, having scored the opener, they couldn’t handle Fraserburgh in the second half and fell to a 3-1 defeat.

Despite losing last season’s belated cup final, there will be a lot more opportunities for Paul Lawson’s team to win silverware in the 2021/22 campaign. They also started their Breedon Highland League season against the Broch last weekend, losing 3-0 at Bellslea, however, there’s a long way to go.

It was great to see an enthusiastic and vocal crowd in attendance for the Shire Cup final. Football is just as important to fans at part-time level as it is to supporters of clubs at the top, and it’s also been great to see fans at Cove Rangers’ Balmoral Stadium recently.

Following long stretches over the past year-and-a-half where playing part-time football hasn’t even been possible due to Covid, the Broch players and staff were also able to celebrate a cup win with their family and friends.

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.