Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes rates his Hibernian counterpart Neil Lennon as a valuable part of Scottish football.
Lennon was in the headlines last week after he was hit by a coin thrown by a supporter during the Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle, before stating that he was the target of abuse because he is an Irish Catholic.
McInnes has enjoyed several battles with Lennon over the years, during his period as Celtic and Hibernian manager, and rates him as someone who always gets the best out of his players.
He said: “I really like Neil as a guy and I think he’s competitive, wears his heart on his sleeve just like the way he played the game. He gives his clubs everything as he’s passionate, he speaks well and he’s a very good manager who brings the best out of people.
“For me he rightly gets a lot of credit for his team and the way they play the game and rightly so. You always expect a tough game against Neil’s team whether that’s when I went up against him when he was the Celtic manager or now he’s in charge at Hibs now.
“We’ve had two hard games against Hibs already this season that ended draws after 90 minutes down at Easter Road but we manager to win the cup tie on penalties. But were under pressure for spells but managed to get the result and while losing a last minute equaliser down there in the league was hard to take it was probably no more than they deserved.
“Tactics can sometimes be overplayed at times as it’s mostly about getting performances from your players to deliver the big results and Neil is good at that. Most people in football have some idea of the game but managing players right and getting them to respond positively to you is the biggest part and he does that.”
Hibernian come north to the Granite City tonight and have yet to beat the Dons this season, drawing 1-1 in a league game at Easter Road and going out of the Betfred Cup on a penalty shoot-out.
The Dons followed that spot-kick triumph with victory over Rangers to earn a spot in the final and the club stated yesterday they have sold out 18,000 tickets for the showpiece game against Celtic on December 2.
McInnes added: “We’re delighted with that but the response is as we expected as finals are viewed totally differently and they are there to be cherished. Hopefully we get as many of our supporters in as possible as the semi-final response was deemed disappointing by some. Not by me but it’s encouraging regards the final and it gives us a lot of belief and confidence that so many want to be at Hampden next month.”
The Aberdeen manager is confident of being able to extend the loan of full-back Max Lowe, whose deal from Derby expires in January. McInnes is in regular contact with Rams boss Frank Lampard and his assistant Jody Morris, who worked with the Dons manager at St Johnstone, with regards to Lowe’s progress.
The club are also confident of working out a deal to keep Andy Considine at the club. The long-serving defender is one of five players who sees their contract expire next summer.
McInnes said: “Andy is someone I trust totally. If he wants to sign and be here longer then we would gladly have him.”