Former Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood believes it is imperative the Dons clinch European football over the closing five games of the season.
The Dons are sitting third in the Scottish Premiership, level on points with second-place Rangers and three points ahead of Neil Lennon’s Hibernian.
Only a top-three finish will guarantee European football next term while the side that finishes fourth would miss out on a Europa League spot should Motherwell shock treble-chasing Celtic in next month’s Scottish Cup final.
Calderwood, who guided the Dons to the last-32 of the UEFA Cup during the 2007-08 campaign, believes it is essential the Dons consolidate European qualification and remains optimistic his former side can come out on top in a three-way contest to finish best of the rest.
He said: “If Aberdeen finish second it will help appease the supporters after the Scottish Cup loss against Motherwell and I still expect Aberdeen to finish second.
“It is very important Aberdeen qualify for Europe and they will want to get that guaranteed as soon as possible.
“I still get people speaking to me about the run we had in Europe.
“It was a wonderful time.
“Competing in Europe is something every Aberdeen supporter wants.”
Manager Derek McInnes admitted the club’s recruitment over the past two transfer windows has not been good enough following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat by Motherwell at Hampden but Calderwood added: “It is not just down to the manager.
“Aberdeen is a massive club and the expectations have risen.
“Derek will be disappointed that he has brought some very good players to the club and they aren’t doing it for him.
“Pittodrie is a wonderful place to play but you have got to be able to handle it.
“I expected Aberdeen to go through last weekend but it just didn’t happen for them on Saturday.
“They have plenty of quality in the squad but Motherwell deserve credit because they played really well.”
The Dons will look to bounce back from last weekend’s cup defeat when they take on Kilmarnock at Rugby Park tomorrow.
Kenny McLean, Shay Logan and captain Graeme Shinnie all return from suspension.