Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes hoping for run to Europa League group stages to boost Kingsford coffers

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes.
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes hopes he can help the fundraising efforts for Kingsford by leading the club to the group stages of the Europa League.

Tonight marks the start of the sixth successive campaign of European football at Pittodrie and the challenge remains the same as it is every year.

The Dons must navigate four rounds to reach the group stages where clubs such as Sevilla, Arsenal, Manchester United and Roma lie in wait, and McInnes knows the lucrative games on offer would bring a much-welcomed windfall to the club.

McInnes, who signed a new two-year contract on Thursday alongside assistant Tony Docherty, is targeting uncharted territory in continental competition.

He said: “Nobody is taking anything for granted but if we can get through to the holy grail of the group stages that would be significant for us, not only in terms of respectability for the club but also financially.

“We are trying to do so much at the minute in terms of keeping a team that is competitive, building a new training ground and building a new stadium. There is a lot money going out and we could do with any additional money coming in.

“It is a realistic ambition for this club. It used to be you won two rounds to get into the group stages and I think that was the case the last time the club was in the group stages. To get to the group stages we need to beat four teams at a stage of the season where in Scotland teams are not at their best. We are hanging on to the belief we can be good enough to win these games.”

Derek McInnes during Aberdeen training yesterday.

RoPS of Finland are the first hurdle the Dons must overcome, starting with tonight’s first leg at Pittodrie.

The Dons are overwhelming favourites to progress to a second round meeting with either Fola Esch of Luxembourg or Georgian side Chikhura Sachkhere but McInnes is taking nothing for granted.

He said: “It’s four tough rounds. We were seeded for this round but you can face significant clubs of real standing further down the line. If you look closer at the clubs we have faced, although we don’t hear of them sometimes you assume they are not any good in this country but we won’t be complacent.

“Some clubs have surprised us over the years and while the Finnish league is not one of the leading leagues in Europe there are still capable players and teams within these leagues and we are not blasé enough to think we just need to turn up. We know we have to be as prepared as we possibly can be.

“We can’t be as good as we will be later in the season at this stage. That’s impossible. When we are integrating as many players into the team that we are I have no doubt this team can only get better as we go through the season but we have to make sure we are good enough at this stage to get through the tie and hopefully we can get stronger as we go.”

Dons winger Connor McLennan, who made his comeback from a knee injury in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Caley Thistle, has not been named in the squad for the first qualifying round but Niall McGinn has been included following his cameo appearance at Borough Briggs at the weekend.