Billy Dodds believes the gap between Aberdeen and Dundee United is as big as it has ever been.
The New Firm face each other in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round at Pittodrie on Sunday and Dodds, who played for both clubs, insists it will take a mammoth effort from United to upset the Dons at Pittodrie.
He said: “The gulf in class has probably been as wide at some point but it is quite wide just now.
“I’m not saying Dundee United can’t go and get a result in a one-off game. But it will take a huge effort. Probably on a consistent level against Aberdeen they will know there is a gap but in this type of match, a cup tie, plus this fixture – which has something special about it – they are capable of getting themselves up for it.
“They have some experience – Paul Quinn, Willo Flood and Scott McDonald – and there are a few there with legs and energy about them that means they can do it in a one-off.
“To sustain that over a league campaign is probably asking a lot.
“But, while they might not fancy themselves, the United players will be thinking this is a great fixture to take part in.”
United are struggling in the Championship behind runaway leaders St Mirren, while the Dons continue to impress as they split Celtic and Rangers at the top of the Premiership.
Dodds believes the fact Derek McInnes’ side swept Saints aside with ease in the last round highlights the gap between the respective divisions.
He said: “I am a great believer that there is a gap between the Championship and Premiership, especially over a sustained period.
“When you see St Mirren, who were flying higher than United, suddenly go to Aberdeen and get, maybe not a hiding but it was a pretty straightforward result for Aberdeen, that shows you how big a gap there is sometimes.”
While Dodds believes United have the proverbial mountain to climb if they are to shock the Dons in the cup, the former Don believes Aberdeen have an equally difficult task in mounting a title challenge to Celtic.
Aberdeen closed the gap to eight points by beating Hamilton on Saturday while Celtic lost at Kilmarnock but Dodds does not foresee a challenge coming from Pittodrie.
He said: “The one thing I would say is that, if they are (to be) realistically in the title race, they have to start getting results against the bigger teams.
“For as experienced as he is, even though he is a young manager, Derek would not be coming out with something like that.
“But he will be thinking, we haven’t beat Rangers or Celtic so how can we be in the title race?”
- Billy Dodds was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.