Derek McInnes has appealed for calm in the growing hysteria around referees.
A number of high-profile incidents over the weekend, including Andrew Dallas giving four penalties against St Mirren and Willie Collum coming under the spotlight for his performance during St Johnstone against Celtic, has ramped up the scrutiny on the men in the middle.
Kilmarnock manger Steve Clarke raised questions about why Collum booked James Forrest for celebrating with the crowd but did not book Timothy Weah when he did the same.
hree of Dallas’ four spot-kick decisions at Ibrox appeared incorrect; Jermaine Defoe going to ground easily near Paul McGinn, while Greg Tansey was punished for a handball outside the box and a challenge on Candeias that occurred a yard outside the box, with the Portuguese winger falling into the penalty area.
Dallas has repeatedly come under fire this season, which also saw him give a handball in the Betfred Cup final against Dominic Ball when it again looked to have happened outside the box and the Aberdeen man headed on to his hand.
Former official Steve Conroy whipped up a hysteria by claiming more referees support Rangers than Celtic, while former Parkhead favourite Tom Boyd called for foreign referees to be brought in.
It sits uncomfortably with Dons boss McInnes, who is tired of seeing the furore around officials dominate Scottish football.
He said: “There hasn’t been an era where referees haven’t had bad games but we are making much more of it right now. I thought we had reached the point a few weeks ago where we’d tried to get away from it.
“The meeting a few weeks ago was healthy to get everyone in the same room. Everyone – managers, the media and everyone involved in the game has to take responsibility to not victimise referees like they have been. I don’t care who the referee is tomorrow night, it shouldn’t be about who is refereeing games. It should be about the game.
“It has been blown up again from the weekend about a referee having a poorer game. But then you get all the stuff that comes with it and we all have a responsibility. The media has a responsibility because now we’re having former referees dragged out to say who they support.
“Referees can have a bad game, it happens. As long as that’s reflected in his next run of games then I think people can handle that. That is probably where the frustration comes from.”
It may put greater pressure on Bobby Madden tonight, as he officiates Aberdeen’s home game against Rangers at Pittodrie. Victory for the hosts will see them up to second and deliver their third win over Steven Gerrard’s side this season.
McInnes said: “It pleases me that despite all the advantages Rangers have, their huge and talented squad and the money they’ve spent, that we’re still around them. It is a challenge to compete with the Old Firm. The game is about the three points, where it takes us isn’t important at this stage.
“Our fight is with ourselves, we need to knuckle down and just get as many points as we can. Once we get to 30 or 32 games, hopefully we can still be in and around the teams at the top. We want to make each three points relevant in taking us to where we want to go.
“We love playing under the lights and in these sort of games. Rangers are a good side with a lot of good players, but we are quietly confident of chipping away and picking up points as we go along.”
Joe Lewis and Sam Cosgrove are expected to be fit, after coming off against Hibernian at the weekend, while Mikey Devlin returns from four months out to make the bench.