Sunday was about as bad a day as Derek McInnes has had as Aberdeen manager.
Losing his prized asset and arguably his best defender in Scott McKenna was bad enough, but the horrendous display which followed in his absence was the icing on a sour-tasting cake.
McKenna has been an excellent servant for the Dons, but, having turned down bids for the player on several occasions, there comes a point where the club risks having an unhappy player on their books if they keep blocking his chance to move on.
That, and the coronavirus pandemic, would have been two factors in Aberdeen’s thoughts when the offer from Nottingham Forest came in over the weekend.
For Scott, it’s a chance to play in England and earn a substantial pay increase in the process. For the Dons it’s £3 million up front and about £2m more as Scott progresses at Forest with the chance of a further windfall down the line should he earn another move at his next club.
His departure leaves the Dons with a reorganising job needing to be done defensively and from what we saw on Sunday those who played at the back did not show they are the guys to fill the gap.
The decision to play Tommie Hoban in Stavanger on Thursday meant Derek McInnes did not want to play the former Watford defender for 90 minutes again on Sunday against Motherwell, while Forest’s bid for McKenna meant two defensive changes were required in the back three.
Ross McCrorie has impressed since joining the club but I believe he can make his biggest contribution in midfield. He did not have near the same influence at central defence on Sunday, while Ash Taylor’s return to the starting line-up lasted all of 45 minutes as he struggled, too.
It was a bad day at the office and I am sure the manager will ensure there is no repeat of it. There simply can’t be as the team head for Lisbon to face Sporting Clube de Portugal on Thursday in the Europa League.
It is not easy preparing for a big game when you are not 100% sure it is even going ahead, but that is what Aberdeen must do.
The Covid-19 outbreak at Sporting has wrought havoc with their preparation for the game, but they will still have more than enough quality players available to make this a major test for the Dons.
You are not at a club like Sporting if you are not up to the task and I’m sure Derek will remind his players of that this week.
As poor as the Dons were, a big performance in Portugal this week would go a huge way to making amends and showing the Motherwell game really was a one-off.
County ease any pressure
Ross County boss Stuart Kettlewell will be feeling a lot better after seeing his side get back to winning ways on Saturday at St Johnstone.
The Staggies rode their luck at times and Saints missed some great chances but there were also moments of great defending and excellent goalkeeping.
It’s not hard in the Scottish Premiership to go four or five games without a win. It’s a tough league and the teams are evenly matched.
It was an important win for County ahead of a testing run, starting with the visit of Aberdeen on Sunday.
With the Dons, Rangers and Hibs the next three games in the league for County they know they face three really tough matches, but they can go into these games knowing there is no pressure on them.
Is Betfred Cup worth it for lower-league sides?
I would not be surprised if some chairmen at lower league clubs are wondering what is the point of playing in the Betfred Cup this season.
The SPFL’s announcement on Friday that all lower league teams must test their players if they are playing Premiership opposition in the group stages has left many teams facing a huge bill.
An added cost of around £3,000 will be one many lower league clubs will struggle to cover, especially if no fans are allowed in to watch the games next month.
It’s a nightmare scenario for many sides and one which really should have been addressed weeks if not months ago.
Look at Highland league champions Brora Rangers, for example. They are due to make the trip to Easter Road to face Hibernian for their first game but not only do they have to get players off work for the game and cover the cost of the trip to Edinburgh, they are now having to shell out thousands of pounds for testing and it’s likely no one will be there to see it.
I would not be surprised if we see a scenario, especially towards the end of the group stage, where the game is meaningless and one club simply forfeits.
It’s a dire state of affairs.