Aberdeen can challenge Celtic for the Scottish Premiership title this season, according to former Dons forward Frank McDougall.
The Dons have been the Hoops’ nearest challengers for the past three seasons but finished 30 points behind Brendan Rodgers’ side last term, who won the title without losing a game.
But McDougall, who scored 44 goals in 69 appearances for the Dons between 1984 and 1987, has been impressed with the way Derek McInnes’ side have started the new term.
The Dons have won all three of their opening matches ahead of Saturday’s trip to Firhill to take on Partick Thistle.
Before Saturday’s 2-1 win against Dundee, Reds defender Andrew Considine conceded it was unrealistic to expect the Dons to prevent Celtic winning a seventh successive title this season.
But McDougall says the Dons must be ready to capitalise should the title favourites suffer a slump in form during the campaign.
He said: “Stranger things have happened.
“If Aberdeen keep winning games then you never know what can happen.
“I certainly think they can close the gap on Celtic.
“It is a good thing Celtic are in the Champions League because it may mean they take their eye off the ball on the domestic front.
“Aberdeen should be fresher as they won’t have European football and they have to use that advantage.
“The most important thing for Aberdeen is not about finishing above Rangers – they should be focused on trying to win the league.
“It is not unrealistic to think Aberdeen can challenge for the title.
“The league is there to be won and you don’t play Celtic every week.
“But it is games like this Saturday – Partick Thistle away – that you have to keep winning if you are going to challenge.
“Of course, it is going to take Celtic to have a real blip before Aberdeen get closer to them.
“If they play the same way they did last season then no one will stop them.”
McDougall believes Dons manager McInnes deserves credit for the way he has rebuilt the Dons squad over the summer.
He added: “They signed some good players over the summer and I think the squad is stronger than it was last season.
“They still have Kari Arnason, a very experienced international, to come in once he gets fully fit.
“Ryan Christie is one who has really impressed me. He is a great young player.
“Aberdeen weren’t at their best against Dundee at the weekend but they got the win and football is all about results.
“It is always a good sign when a team can win games when not at their best.”